Mason, AWS partner on renewable energy lab and Sustainable Data Center Engineering concentration


The significant demand for data centers and their impact on global energy requires new models for renewable and sustainable energy systems. Working with Amazon Web Services (AWS), George Mason University will unveil a renewable energy lab within Fuse at Mason Square and launch a companion curriculum concentration in sustainable data center engineering this fall 2024.

“We are very appreciative of our continuing partnership with AWS,” Mason President Gregory Washington said. “Because of their support, we are providing our students and faculty with cutting-edge technology and tools that unite our researchers across many disciplines to further their knowledge about data centers. With this level of education and experience, our students are well-prepared to enter the tech workforce.”  

“Investing in expanded laboratory experiences for students is critical,” Nicholas Lee-Romagnolo, program lead of workforce and economic development at AWS, said. “George Mason students from all disciplines will have access to real-world technologies and hands-on simulations. This type of immersive learning complements the breadth of new programs offered to students and helps ensure they have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to fill high-demand jobs across the region.” 

The new concentration in sustainable data center engineering will focus on renewable energy generation, storage, and distribution training and hands-on experience. The course builds upon the Data Center Engineering course launched last year that develops student expertise in data center infrastructure design, operations, efficiency, cooling, and decarbonization. 

Guests at Fuse Topping Out visit student demonstrations.
President Gregory Washington (right) visits student demonstrations at Fuse Topping Out event. Photo by Ron Aira/Office of University Branding.

With advanced equipment and software tools funded by AWS, Mason’s new Renewable Energy Lab will allow students to explore, analyze, and simulate data related to renewable energy sources as well as the complex design and operation of microgrids. The lab will replicate real-world equipment such as power grids, wind power plants, and other renewable energy sources.  

“AWS’s investment in the renewable energy lab provides another critical piece to Mason’s experiential ecosystem designed to prepare the next generation of engineers for roles that did not exist 10 years ago. Mason will now expand the number of students in our power engineering and data center engineering programs with hands-on skills development, which is essential to bridge between the classroom and industry practice,” said Liza Wilson Durant, associate provost for strategic initiatives and community engagement. 

The new lab will be based at Fuse at Mason Square and is part of a broad partnership with Amazon. This project also strengthens Mason’s participation in the Tech Talent Investment Program (TTIP), a statewide program that aims to increase the number of undergraduate and graduate students completing degrees in the fields of computer science, applied computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering.

Kamaljeet Sanghera, executive director for the Institute for Digital Innovation (IDIA) adds, “Mason consistently delivers on its promise to foster collaboration across disciplines and industries not only to deliver the best student experience but also to advance critical solutions to the nation’s grandest challenges.”