Carnegie Mellon University
March 27, 2017

CMU held 2nd Annual Energy Week hosted by the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation

More than 1,000 people participated in Carnegie Mellon's second annual Energy Week on March 27-31!

Below are highlights of the week. If you missed some of the events, you can watch videos of most of the keynote talks and presentations on our Energy Week 2017 playlist on the Scott Institute YouTube Channel and view photos on our Facebook page!

Save the Date for Energy Week 2018, April 4-6

Please save April 4-6, 2018 on your calendars for Energy Week 2018! During that week, CMU will host the third annual Allegheny Region Cleantech University Prize Competition for collegiate students in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio.  Sign up here to receive updates on Energy Week 2018 and here for the Allegheny Cleantech Competition!

Summary of Energy Week 2017:

Day 1: Future of Energy

Energy Week kicked off with EST&P’s Energy Symposium, which include a student pitch competition and a lunchtime panel session featuring energy industry experts. Read more, here>>.

The Energy Innovation and Entrepreneurship Roundtable was also held at the Energy Innovation Center, where speakers brainstormed actions to advance the region.

In addition, CMU held an Energy Career Fair to help students find jobs and internships. Over 20 energy related companies participated and over 200 students attended. CMU’s CPDC, Scott Institute, and the EST&P master’s program sponsored this event and are looking forward to next year’s career fair!

Day 2: Innovation Day

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems President and CEO Paul Browning (Engineering '90) introduced the new Power Sector Carbon Index, developed by a CMU team and sponsored by Mitsubishi Hitachi. Read about the Index in NEXT Pittsburgh.

Browning also made interesting comments during the Q+A session following his talk, including:

  • China is now the world's largest clean energy market, in particular for wind and solar energy.
  • For carbon capture sequestration and energy storage technology, the tax credits from past renewable energy policies have the ability, without increasing the budget, to start subsidizing this and similar technologies.
  • Believes that while government policy has an impact, technology and markets play an even more important role in the energy industry's future progress.

Andrew Stevenson of Tesla's Special Projects described the company's evolution from a 5-person startup to an innovative global company with tens of thousands of employees working in a variety of technology areas. Stevenson discussed his passion for sustainability education, and described ways for students to get involved and build their careers around this impactful field. Watch the video of his speech.

In the Allegheny Cleantech Competition, 14 teams competed for a $50,000 prize. The winning team was RoBotany from CMU's Tepper School of Business, who recently competed in the Rice Business Plan Competition (along with 101 and Forest Devices), the world's biggest and richest student start-up competition. Second place ($10K) went to Teratonix (CMU's Tepper School of Business), and the two third place prizes ($5K) went to RE-Empower and MPEL-EVtech (both from the U. of Maryland). Fan favorite went to Minimus (Robert Morris University). Read more about the competition in this CMU News story and watch the finalists pitch their technologies! And, don't miss this video interview with Austin Webb of RoBotany and Allegheny Cleantech Competition judge Will Allen, who is also a former Pittsburgh Steeler! Thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for the coverage!

Day 3:  Research Day

Energy Week participants had the chance to see some of CMU's top-of-the-line labs and research centers through guided tours. Some of the stops were the Lab for Catalysis and Surface Science, the Integrated Environmental Control Model, the Climate & Energy Decision Making Center, the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, and the Intelligent Workplace.

At the Technical Innovation, Policy, and Shale Gas Development Roundtable, experts from the field discussed the barriers that shale gas innovation encounters in the processes of extraction, transportation and use.

Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), delivered a keynote speech that highlighted NAS energy reports, many of which included the expertise of CMU faculty members.

During the Q+A session after her talk, McNutt made these interesting comments:

  • She supports the March for Science to be held in Washington, D.C. However, she worries that scientists might be perceived as a special interest group only concerned about themselves and not for science. The march should be for the benefit of science in America rather than their research grants.
  • Only 1 out of 46 positions in the science administration have been filled under the Trump era; however, major announcements on the positions are expected soon. McNutt says the administration is interested in science initiatives that would support jobs, national security and health.
  • Federal agencies provide major funding for academy studies, but 30 percent of their funding comes from non-governmental sources that could be used to fund research that does not find an external sponsor, but is deemed important.

During the Andy Talks, eight CMU faculty members explained their energy-related research in brief 20-minute presentations:

  • Dr. Karen Clay - "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Understanding the Social and Economic Costs of Transporting Crude Oil"
  • Dr. Zico Kolter - "Energy and Data: The Personal and The Global"
  • Dr. Erica Fuchs -  "The Material Future: How Our Job, Energy, and National Security Depend on Who Makes What"
  • Dr. Costa Samaras - "The Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index: Informing the Energy Transition"
  • Dr. Jennifer Mankoff - "A Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Sustainable Behavior Change"
  • Dr. Kathleen Newman - "What Does Literature and Culture Have to do with Energy? A Miner’s Granddaughter Explains"
  • Dr. Venkat Viswanathan - "Batteries: The Missing Piece for Sustainable Transportation and Aviation"
  • Dr. Jeanne VanBriesen - "Resources, Rivers, and Regrets: How Energy Choices Affect Drinking Water"

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama students put the energy on stage with the Energy-Themed Dramatic Monologue Competition. Three actor and writer teams competed for up to $2,000 in prizes. Watch their performances! 

Following the competition, we heard a panel discussion titled, "Science and Engineering on Screen: Hollywood Loves Energy!" Panelists Deric Hughes, writer and co-executive producer for the CW's "The Flash," and Kate Jackson, Constantine Samaras, and Emmanuel Taylor (who are part of the Science Ambassadors Program) shared how energy is, and should be, portrayed in film and TV. They noted how action film writers often start with "real science" and then take the script even further. View photos and the video from the event.

The CMU Student Research Poster and Multimedia Competition featured almost 40 topics on energy research and projects from all over the campus!

EST&P students won $250 for their posters: Techno-economic Analysis of a Wireless Charging Infrastructure Model for Electric Vehicles (Ashwin Balaji, College of Engineering), Enabling Distributed Renewable Energy on a Commercial Scale (Nathan Cheng, College of Engineering), EmpowerIkowa: Microgrid Model for Rural Electrification in Tanzania (Guillaume Bence Hébert, Mikael Matossian, Parangat Shukla, College of Engineering)

Day 4: Policy Day
In the morning, experts gathered for a roundtable on Regional Energy Workforce and Development. They discussed mechanisms to enhance two-way communication focused on supply and demand and the skills and education needed between middle and high schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges, business and industry, communities, foundations, and non-government organizations focused on enhancing the diversity of the energy workforce. The group will meet at Energy Week 2018 to review implementation of these mechanisms.

In the afternoon, the Contesting Energy: Labor, Culture and Politics Symposium (hosted by CMU's English and History Departments) kicked off with a panel discussion on Hollywood’s local, global and racial implications in the movies “Gasland” and “Promised Land." Watch the discussion

Day 5: Education Day

Three energy experts delivered keynote speeches at The Energy Week Policy and Law Forum, co-hosted with PITT School of Law and WVU College of Law.

Howard Gruenspecht, acting administrator for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, spoke on “The Outlook for Electricity Supply and Demand, Transportation Energy Use, and Hydrocarbon Production in the United States."

Gladys Brown, chairman for the Public Utilities Commission, spoke on the decentralization of the electric utility industry and decarbonization, and how that affects oil and gas transportation issues.

Colette Honorable, commissioner for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, discussed her key priority: resilience against weather, cybersecurity and physical threats to grid operation. She also noted the challenging issue of making decisions about pipelines that impact homes, and the importance of fuel diversity for the future.

The forum also included panel discussions on Oil and Gas Production and Transportation, Decentralization of the Electric Utility Industry and Decarbonization of Electric Generation.

At the Contesting Energy: Labor, Culture and Politics Symposium, Columbia University's Timothy Mitchell discussed intriguing ideas from his influential book, "Carbon Democracy." He urged Energy Week participants to maintain our collective "energy" for democracy, despite present obstacles. One of the possible vulnerabilities of contemporary capitalism, he said, is that it sells future shares that allow large corporations to tax the future. He asked how our democratic institutions might disrupt those futures as a way to better the life of ordinary people. View photos. Panels occurred throughout the day that highlighted the important role that social and political forces and argument play in energy policy and decision making.

Energy Week ended with participants enjoying field trips to Phipps' Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Greenstar Recycling Center, the East Liberty Augmented Reality Experience, and Chatham University's Eden Hall.