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FAU Graduate Student Awarded First Fellowship Funded by the Sun

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (September 22, 2011) – Florida Atlantic University's School of Urban and Regional Planning within the College for Design and Social Inquiry has announced the first recipient of the "Sun Fund Fellowship," a unique graduate student fellowship believed to be the first in the world that is "funded by the sun."  The funding is derived from the amount saved in energy costs due to the solar roof installation on FAU's Higher Education Complex building on its Fort Lauderdale campus.

Brett Waldman, a first-year student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, was awarded the $6,000 fellowship plus a tuition waiver for the 2011-12 academic year.  As the recipient of the fellowship, Waldman will work as a research assistant to faculty in the areas of environmental planning and climate adaptation. 

"The goal of the solar roof initiative is to not only utilize a clean energy source, but to be an educational resource to both our students and the community," said Jaap Vos, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the School.  "It's an innovative way of directly helping the environment, while the environment indirectly helps a student financially."

In the first two years of operation, the solar energy panels have saved the university approximately 7.5 percent of its previous energy costs to operate the building.  One of the tasks for Waldman will be to accurately calculate the actual savings attributed to the solar array.

A flat panel display in the lobby of the building, along with the interactive web site, currently display the real time monitoring of kilowatt hours generated by the array on an hourly, daily, yearly and lifetime basis. 

A South Florida native, Waldman holds a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from the University of Florida.  He has extensive professional experience in residential and municipal landscape design, with particular focus on water conservation and alternative energy integration. 

"My first exposure to the power of solar energy was in 1990 on the roof of my house in Plantation, Florida," said Waldman.  "My parents took the initiative to install a solar panel to reduce economic expenses and the electric consumption of our water heating energy. Even at a young age this decision was a defining moment for me, demonstrating that through alternative, creative decision making we can make a positive impact for ourselves, community and surrounding environment. It is my highest intention that with the Sun Fund Fellowship and the resources available at the School of Urban and Regional Planning, I will continue this trend of forward thinking through progressive planning and design."

The deadline to apply for the "Sun Fund Fellowship" for the fall 2012 semester is March 16, 2012, and the application can be found online at To learn more about the solar roof installation and the School's solar roof initiative, visit


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. In commemoration of its origin, FAU is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2011. Today, the University serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit

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