Kathy Haq is heading to the Orange County Fair, but she’s not going for the corn dogs or carnival rides.

She’s helping UCI’s National Fuel Cell Research Center present a fuel cell exhibit July 7-30 at the Orange County Fair & Exposition Center in Costa Mesa. It’s the exhibit’s first U.S. appearance after debuting at the 2005 World’s Fair in Aichi, Japan, where it attracted more than 2 million visitors. As NFCRC’s director of outreach and communications, Haq is as excited as a kid on a tilt-a-whirl at seeing the fuel cell exhibit come to fruition.

“This exhibit will be even better than it was in Japan,” Haq says. “At the World’s Fair, visitors had only 10 minutes to see the exhibit because of the crowds. Here, they can see it at their leisure, and it’s a little more spread out.”

The exhibit will give fairgoers an up-close look at an emerging energy technology that may someday power everything from their laptop computers to cars. It features a one-minute animated video explaining how fuel cells work and a pictorial display of the technology’s current and future uses. A stationary fuel cell will be on view, with see-through panels that show the system’s internal components. There’s also an architectural model that demonstrates how a home of the future could be powered using solar power and fuel cell technology. NFCRC graduate students will be on hand Fridays through Sundays to answer fairgoers’ questions.

“Fuel cells are already being used in commercial applications like hotels; it’s not just future technology,” Haq says. “In the near future, they will be used to provide power to devices like laptops and cell phones, and even our homes.”

Haq came to UCI in 2000 and worked in University Advancement until two years ago, when NFCRC director Scott Samuelsen hired her to spread the word about the center, which has focused on the research, development and testing of the fuel cell since 1997. Haq is uniquely suited for her job, with experience in communications and science. She has a journalism degree and an M.B.A., and she’s worked at newspapers as a reporter and in communications for Philips Semiconductors in Albuquerque, N.M., and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“I enjoy being around people doing this kind of thing – engineers working on a sustainable energy source for our future global needs,” she says. “It’s good for the planet.”