Editor's Note: This is part of a series in partnership with the American Solar Energy Society. Click here for more articles about the National Solar Tour, and look for updates each Tuesday.
On November 13, 2001 two months after the largest attack on domestic soil this generation has seen Jeffrey Owens enlisted in the U.S. Army. It was shortly after his 30th birthday. I wasnt looking for a career, I just wanted to serve, he recalls. He enlisted as a combat engineer and shipped overseas.
After two tours in Iraq and service in Western Europe, the Iraqi war veteran has embarked upon his third tour of duty. His mission is still focused on serving his country, and the enemy is still an insidious global threat.
But instead of fighting what many have called a war for oil, Jeffrey Owens has joined the renewable revolution. His enemies are Americas dangerous reliance on foreign oil and the devastation the liberal use of fossil fuels has wrought on the global environment.
Owens new mission is three-fold: first, its educating those whove not had his experience overseas on the critical nature of United States energy independence; next, its evangelizing the economic and environmental benefits of going solar, both here and abroad. Third, its earning his PhD in Physics to improve the spectrum of available solar photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies.
I want to help develop more efficient, cheaper solar technologies, says the 37-year-old full-time grad student, who is attending the University of Missouri with the aid of the Montgomery G.I. Bill (a Veterans Administration-backed program for those whove served overseas).
Owens interest in alternative energy took seed when he came to realize that it was a conflict over resources that appeared to be at the root of many of the problems in Iraq.
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