Gold Rush Rivalry

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By Josh Clark
Originally published in "The Sunday Paper"
(October 6, 2007 Issue)

The longstanding competition between the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech is well known on the gridiron. But elsewhere, beyond the hedges and out of sight of the ghost of Bobby Dodd, there exists another front to the rivalry. These opposing warriors wear lab coats instead of shoulder pads, and nary a one can throw anything approaching a tight spiral, but the division between Tech and the state's flagship university is just as wide as ever. It can be found within the labs and facilities that make up Georgia's rough and tumble field of biofuel research.

"I would say there is a rivalry," says John Muzzy, a chemical and biomolecular engineering professor at Tech. "But it's not like the football rivalry."

That's true. Tech has better footing in this version. When they hear alternative fuel research, average Georgians think, "Georgia Tech." After all, it is an institute of technology. But UGA has been quietly making a name for itself in biofuel research. Still, one can't help but get the idea that maybe Tech doesn't really respect UGA's research as fully as the school's defensive line will respect Knowshon Moreno next month.

"[The two schools] are kind of going in different directions," Muzzy says. "UGA is working on a lot of biodiesel and agricultural-type feed stocks. That's not really Tech's forte."

Muzzy is quick to point out, however, that despite the rivalry between Tech and Georgia, researchers from the two schools have a good history of working together. Muzzy himself is part of a team that consists of both Tech and UGA researchers that looks like it will produce a healthy start-up company, and Muzzy says he can guess where the perfect location for the corporate offices would be.

"We will probably set it up in Gwinnett County, because it's between Tech and Georgia," he says.

Of course the researchers will work together: There's a lot on the line. Money, prestige, careers


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