Beginning of a Groundswell: Role of Energy Clubs in Energy Innovation Challenges

23 energy clubs (out of around 70 energy clubs total) shared a little bit about themselves with us this morning at the Student Program.

“No one at the federal government will turn down a student,” says Shannon Yee, the first ARPA-E fellow and current PhD candidate at Berkeley.  Contact fed representatives to come speak at your energy club! They love students!

Asher Burns-Burg, an ex-co-president of BERC,  says there are 3 problems facing students interested in energy, “No opportunities to work across disciplines, gaps in energy curriculums, and difficulty for students to engage and make an impact in energy.”

Out of the world’s top 10 universities, the US has 7. There is enormous potential in America’s students exploring the energy frontier.

The Thesis: Energy clubs provide a low cost way to increase US energy competitiveness by engaging students, fostering new companies, educating a new workforce and catalyzing energy innovation.

What exists for energy students:

Moving forward:
  • Matching seed fund
  • Consistent venue to share best practices
  • Coordination support (between clubs)
We then engaged in a roundtable discussion focused around best practices, new ideas, specific gaps, and resources for energy clubs.
How to Make Your Energy Club/Organization a Powerhouse of Innovation:
  • Inter-university conferences (a la Berkeley-Stanford Cleantech Conference. Why isn’t there an MIT-Harvard Energy Conference?)
  • Energy 101 Lectures: basic clean energy concepts like solar pv, thermodynamics – to establish a more level playing field between MBA’s and engineers (MIT)
  • Add events from other universities to weekly newsletter distribution
  • Job Treks trips in specific verticals, such as Smart Grid or Cleantech Financing Job Trek
  • Company-sponsored happy hours (free drinks and a networking opportunity would attract a lot of people)
  • After energy events / lectures, put a location everyone is going for drinks
  • Student and faculty bloggers (Me!)
  • Federal agencies state specifically funding is going to energy clubs
  • Consulting for external organizations (Students are placed into interdiscplinary teams based on client project needs)
  • Energy education for K-12, taught by multi-disciplinary graduate students (Successful program, Resources)
  • Energy Courses, like Berkeley’s Cleantech2Market. Don’t wait for faculty permission to design a course you think would be effective. (Arun Majumdar says that technologies and projects that spring out of C2M should be made available as resources to other universities, instead of limiting it to Haas MBA’s and LBNL)
  • Energy efficiency / renewable energy projects on campus (suggestion by Arun)

Bottom line: Ask for forgiveness, not permission. 

2 thoughts on “Beginning of a Groundswell: Role of Energy Clubs in Energy Innovation Challenges

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