Carnegie Mellon University

Panel at Energy Week on Stage with crowd in the foreground

April 05, 2023

CMU Energy Week Returns In-Person to Discuss Decarbonizing the Industrial Sector

By Kristen Whitlinger

The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation hosted its seventh annual Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Energy Week from March 21-24, 2023. Returning in-person for the first time since 2019, this year’s conference facilitated dialogue on the challenges and opportunities in decarbonizing the industrial sector.

“Nationally, the industrial sector accounts for roughly one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. ​ The challenge of decarbonizing while also minimizing its impact on jobs, communities -- our livelihoods -- that is what we're going to be discussing all day today. It's an important conversation to have, especially in this region, and we're honored to have representatives from industry, government, nonprofits and other critical organizations here today to take part in this conversation,” Scott Institute Executive Director Daniel Tkacik said during his welcoming address.

Scott Institute Executive Director Daniel Tkacik kicks off CMU Energy Week 2023. Photography by Kevin Lorenzi. 

The week's schedule included over 30 different speakers who shared their insights on technologies, systems, policy, financing, and workforce and community impacts of decarbonizing the industrial sector.  

2023 by the Numbers

  • Over 500 registered attendees representing over 200 organizations
  • Over 30 speakers focused on technologies, systems, policy, financing, and workforce and community impacts of a clean energy transition for industry
  • 11 corporate sponsors
  • 21 investors + 18 startups at the CMU Energy + Cleantech Investor Forum & Startup Pitch Showcase

You can view event coverage here with highlights from the conference below:

  • Videos of our keynote speeches, panels and innovation pitches
  • Photos of the event, including the Student Poster Competition, CMU Energy + Cleantech Investor Forum Pitch Showcase and receptions.

Day 1

CMU Energy Week 2023 kicked off with a day tailored to employers and students in the energy sector, including the annual Energy Industry Career Fair as well as a student networking event. 

Day 2

The morning began with a welcome by Carnegie Mellon University leadership including Scott Institute Executive Director Daniel Tkacik and Engineering Dean Bill Sanders. Joylette Portlock, Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh, set the stage for the rest of the day with her morning keynote discussing the opportunities that lie ahead and lessons we can learn while on the path towards decarbonization.

Morning Keynote Joylette Portlock. Photography by Kevin Lorenzi

Later in the day the audience heard from regional leaders Brian Anderson, Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) of the Department of Energy (DOE), Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive, Allegheny County, and Jake Pawlak, Deputy Mayor, City of Pittsburgh, as they shared their perspectives on the future of energy.

Regional leaders Brian Anderson (left) and Rich Fitzgerald (right). Photograpy by Kevin Lorenzi

Wednesday’s Industrial Decarbonization Deep Dive also featured three panels about technologies & systems, policy decisions and building public support.

The first panel Technologies & Systems: How hard is it to decarbonize the industrial sector, really? featured Brenda J. Pretrilena (US Steel), Sarah Rilling-Hall (Shell USA), Grigorios Panagakos (CMU), Brian Guzek (Duquesne Light Company), Sandeep Nijhawan (Electra) and was moderated by Valerie Karplus (CMU). The panel discussed the most powerful technological levers to address greenhouse gasses from industrial activities.

Panel 1 discusses technologies and systems. Photography by Kevin Lorenzi

The second panel Policy Decisions: What policies do we need to support industrial decarbonization? discussed policies, financing and institutional design to encourage action in deploying decarbonizing solutions. Panelists included Samuel Taylor (WVU Energy Institute), Destenie Nock (CMU), Stephan Feilhauer (S2G Clean Energy Fund), Abby Smith (Team Pennsylvania), Ashleigh Ross (Carbon America) and moderated by Tim McNulty (CMU).

Panel 2 discusses policy decisions. Photography by Rebecca Devereaux

The third panel of the day Building public support: How can we be sure a low carbon transition creates opportunities for workers and communities? discussed the challenges and opportunities around building a broad base of support to decarbonize industry. The panel offered their expertise on the future they think people want to see and how that connects with a low-carbon transition. Panelists included Elizabeth "Betsy" McIntyre (TEAM Consortium), Pam Snyder (former PA House of Representative), Christy Veeder (Office of Energy Jobs, U.S. Department of Energy), Darrin Kelly (Allegheny/Fayette Central Labor Council) and moderated by Rick Stafford (CMU).

Panel 3 discusses building public support. Photography by Rebecca Devereaux

In the afternoon, Carnegie Mellon students presented 20 posters showcasing their innovative research. First Place went to "Electric Vehicle Battery Replacement Costs Under Realistic Fast Charging Behaviors" by EPP and MSE student Hannah Morin. Read more about the winning posters and their research here.

Students presenting at the Energy Poster Competition. Photography by Rebecca Devereaux

Day 2 ended with welcoming reception at Mill 19 in Hazelwood Green – the perfect location to celebrate the transition from the region’s industrial past to its clean, sustainable energy future. 

Welcome Reception at Mill 19

Day 3

CMU Energy Week continued Thursday with the Investor Forum. Dawn James, Managing Director, Sustainability Strategy & Transformation at Deloitte Consulting LLP kicked off the morning with a keynote discussing how investors are thinking about energy tech investments and how to deal with the unprecedented amount of money coming out of the U.S. government to address the biggest technological and societal transformation in history.

Dawn James. Photography by Kevin Lorenzi

Her keynote lead into the Investor Panel: The Climate for ClimateTech Investment where she joined a panel of investors representing specialist energy funds, generalist investment funds active in the energy space, and corporate investors. The panel discussed the climate for energy and climate tech investments; what is unique about their approach to investment, and what implications they see for the future as the new federal programs in the sector start to be rolled out. Dawn James was joined by Ian Adams (Evergreen Climate Innovations), Alicia Lenis (Chrysalix Venture Capital), Thurston Cromwell (Emerson) and Matt Harbaugh (Mountain State Capital) moderated by Reed McManigle (CMU).

The Investor Panel: The Climate for ClimateTech Investment. Photography by Kevin Lorenzi

The panel was followed by an afternoon of startup pitches from 10 surrounding states. 18 startups presented their technologies in 4-minute pitches to a public audience that included judges and investors. The entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with nearly 20 investors from across the nation. The day ended with a Networking Reception at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship.

Networking Reception at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. Photography by Rebecca Devereaux


Day 4

The final day of CMU Energy Week 2023 kicked off with a morning keynote on the future of the energy transition from Paul Browning (CIT B.S. Met. '90), CEO of Continuum Renewables. During his keynote, he announced his plan to launch an energy transition startup incubator.

Paul Browning. Photography by Kevin Lorenzi

The morning continued with the second Tepper Cleantech Case Competition (TC3) included five finalists selected by TC3 organizers. Hosted by the Tepper School of Business and the Tepper Energy & Cleantech Club (ECTC), Ian Gray, the club’s president, kicked off the event. The competition asked teams to act as consultants tasked with identifying the next cleantech investment opportunity and each finalist pitched 15-minute presentations to judges from the events sponsor, Emerson Ventures, as well as other venture capital firms. Congratulations to the winning team EnergiX5 from Cornell.

Ian Gray. Photography by Kevin Lorenzi

A special thanks to this year’s sponsors: Westinghouse, Duquesne Light Company, Trane Technologies, People’s, Rose Rock Bridge, Energea, Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), DOE American-Made Solar Prize, Emerson, United States Steel and Shell. 

Save the Date for next year’s CMU Energy Week, which will take place March 18-22, 2024.


Carnegie Mellon’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation is leading the nation in facilitating discussion and driving action towards decarbonizing our energy economy. As its flagship event, CMU Energy Week brings energy and sustainability leaders, including scholars, investors, and entrepreneurs, from across the nation to Carnegie Mellon University to combine forces and exchange ideas on the world's most pressing issues in energy.