Four MTU graduate students have authored an energy plan for Houghton County, which is a quarter-finalist in the national competition for the Georgetown University Energy Prize of $5 million. The prize challenges participating communities to tap their imagination, creativity, and spirit of competition and work together with their local government and utilities toward a shared goal of reducing their consumption of gas and electricity.
Houghton County’s plan, which was submitted on November 10th, focuses on energy efficiency improvements driven by community outreach efforts. The authors were Brad Barnett, Edward Louie & Brent Burns, all graduate students in the Department of Social Sciences and Abhilash Kantamneni, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science. Earlier drafts of the plan were reviewed by Professor Barry Solomon and Assistant Professor Richelle Winkler, and received significant community input through multiple public meetings. Winkler has also been a facilitator for the Houghton County Energy Efficiency Team (HEET), which is a community organization working with local utilities, public officials, and community organizations to help local residents save energy and reduce costs. There are currently 52 teams in the competition, and the winner will be announced in 2017.
For more information on HEET’s efforts, review the Houghton County energy plan, and to learn how you can get involved visit: http://houghtonenergyefficiency.com/
The D80 Center includes Engineers Without Borders, the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology lab, iDesign, the Peace Corps Master’s International program (PCMI), Global City and the Terra Preta Working Group.
Each fall, the D80 Center hosts a conference to showcase the work these student organizations are doing to help underserved communities at home and around the world. This year’s conference is Saturday, Oct. 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Dow Building at Michigan Tech. It is free and open to faculty, staff, students and the public. “Engage in Community” is this year’s theme.
“Designs and solutions simply aren’t going to be sustainable if they are not aligned with, and in fact driven by, community priorities,” says Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor David Watkins, director of the D80 Center. “Solutions also have to be appropriate given the community’s technical and organizational capacity and economic resources. It’s well known that successful projects have a common trait of strong community engagement. We also want to emphasize the benefits to students of getting engaged in their local communities or with communities abroad, hence the theme ‘Engage (in) Community.’”
The conference features student presentations, with time for questions, answers and discussion; workshops hosted by faculty; and a keynote presentation, “The Complexities of Water, Climate and Health.” The keynote speaker is Jonathon Mellor, a graduate of Michigan Tech’s PCMI program now at Yale University. He will share the work he has done to address global health issues.
“People should attend to find out about all the great things student groups, and some recent Michigan Tech graduates, are doing,” urges Watkins. “We also want students working on projects to have a chance to share their experiences and learn from each other. Finally, we hope students who have not gotten involved yet will be able to learn more about the opportunities available to them and be inspired to get involved.”
Advance registration is requested and has been extended to Friday, Oct. 10. Registration, the program and additional details are available on the conference web page.