WASHINGTON - Christopher Wense, a former steel mill worker who has returned to school while working full-time in the U.S. ethanol industry, is this year's student scholarship winner to attend the Renewable Fuels Association's National Ethanol Conference next month in San Antonio. RFA and the Renewable Fuels Foundation scholarship provides students enrolled in higher education with complimentary registration at the conference, giving scholarship recipients the chance to connect with hundreds of leaders, policymakers, and experts associated with the renewable fuel industry. Only students who focus on renewable fuels in their studies and intend to pursue a career in the industry are eligible to receive the scholarship. This is the ninth consecutive year in which this scholarship has been made available to students. Wense is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Industrial Management and Applied Engineering at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. He also works full time as an Ethanol Plant Operations Technician at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Among his responsibilities, he works to prepare the pilot plant or fermentation suite for trials and research. He previously interned at NCERC. To learn more about Wense's unique story, read this op ed he authored that ran in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday and in today's print edition. "I am honored to have been selected the 2018 winner of the NEC scholarship," said Wense. "In April 2015, I was laid off from U.S. Steel in Granite City, Ill. Shortly thereafter, I returned to college, and after researching the growth potential of several industries, I decided to focus on the renewable fuels sector. Biofuels producers have made tremendous strides in the production of ethanol from corn, and are only scratching the surface of future biofuels, biochemicals and biomaterials from renewable feedstocks. I am so thankful to NCERC for the opportunities I have been given. I see endless growth opportunities for the U.S. ethanol sector, and providing people just like me with rewarding, long-term careers. I look forward to attending NEC next month and learning more about our industry." "The NEC is the most widely attended ethanol industry conference and provides a great networking opportunity for students such as Wense who are pursuing degrees in our industry," said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. "Christopher has a unique story to tell and we want to make sure NEC attendees are able to hear it. We congratulate Christopher and look forward to his participation to learn more about our global industry." The NEC will take place Feb. 12-14 at the JW Marriott in San Antonio. For more information, visit:Â www.NationalEthanolConference.com.