Dec 2, 2007
Thomas Friedman on Energy & MIT
Posted in: Life & Culture
We’re all aware of climate change and the impact that it will have on our future. MIT has been very active in developing solutions to energy challenges, and President Susan Hockfield established the MIT energy initiative in May 2005. Since then, MIT undergrads have done wonders through student groups like Biodiesel@MIT, the MIT Energy Club, the Solar Electric Vehicle Team, and the Solar Decathlon (read more in the Spring 2007 issue of the MIT Undergraduate Research Journal.) Last year, the Biodiesel team got national recognition when they won the grand prize of $25,000 in the GE / mtvU Ecocollege Challenge. (For more info, read one of my previous entries).
Today, Thomas Friedman, an op-ed contributor to the NY Times, wrote an article called “The People We Have Been Waiting For.” In it, he talks about the tremendous contributions of MIT students:
Last week, I also met with two groups of M.I.T. students who blew me away. One was the M.I.T. Energy Club, which was founded in 2004 by a few grad students discussing energy over beers at a campus bar. Today it has 600-plus members who have put on scores of events focused on building energy expertise among M.I.T. students and faculty, and “fact-based analysis,” including a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Then I got together with three engineering undergrads who helped launch the Vehicle Design Summit — a global, open-source, collaborative effort, managed by M.I.T. students, that has 25 college teams around the world, including in India and China, working together to build a plug-in electric hybrid within three years. Each team contributes a different set of parts or designs. I thought writing for my college newspaper was cool. These kids are building a hyper-efficient car, which, they hope, “will demonstrate a 95 percent reduction in embodied energy, materials and toxicity from cradle to cradle to grave” and provide “200 m.p.g. energy equivalency or better.” The Linux of cars!
They’re not waiting for G.M. Their goal, they explain on their Web site — vds.mit.edu — is “to identify the key characteristics of events like the race to the moon and then transpose this energy, passion, focus and urgency” on catalyzing a global team to build a clean car. I just love their tag line. It’s what gives me hope:
“We are the people we have been waiting for.”