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MIT Talks Energy at the White House by Paul B. '11

"It is is our institutional responsibility to address the challenges of energy and the environment." - Susan Hockfield

At a press briefing at the White House on Monday, MIT President Susan Hockfield joined U.S. President Barack Obama in calling for a “truly historic” new level of federal funding for clean energy research.

The event came as Congress prepares to take up the president’s budget, which calls for dedicating $150 billion over 10 years for a new clean energy R&D and technology fund. This initiative represents “the largest and most important investment in science and technology” by the U.S. government since the Apollo moon-landing program in the 1960s, Hockfield said.

Read more (and see the video): Hockfield, Obama urge major push in clean energy research funding – MIT News Office

Energy has been a central, vibrant part of MIT’s mission ever since President Hockfield’s inauguration. In her inaugural address, President Hockfield said, “A second great opportunity, and a great obligation, is our institutional responsibility to address the challenges of energy and the environment.” Today, that responsibility is embodied in the work of the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI).

Founded in September 2006, the Energy Initiative helps coordinate MIT’s significant research into the energy sector. It also houses a wealth of resources and opportunities for students interested in making a difference – so if you’re at all interested in energy research or energy education, be sure to check out their website! In particular, the Energy Initiative has been a key player in helping establish a new inter-disciplinary Energy Minor at MIT, which is projected to be available this coming semester in Fall 2009.

With all that in mind, here’s a sampling of the hundreds of energy-related opportunities that abound at MIT.

In the classroom:

  • 8.21 – Physics¬†of¬†Energy, which has been talked about quite a bit on campus, explores how energy actually works. From a physics standpoint, the course material ranges from a mechanical and electromagnetic understanding of energy systems to talking about thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and nuclear physics. But the class also covers some of the overlooked aspects of the energy problem, such as energy transport and conversion. Finally, the class explores some of the side effects of energy use, such as global warming and nuclear radiation hazards, that capture so much of the media’s attention.
  • 12.213 – Alternate Energy Sources – is a six-unit class that explores a number of alternative energy sources, ranging from wind and solar to geothermal and nuclear. Because it’s only 6 units and has no prerequisites, it’s easy to drop into your schedule! And because the class changes from year to year, you can even take it more than once.
  • 14.44 – Energy Economics and Policy – investigates various aspects of the energy economy. The class also talks about novel ideas for the future, such as energy tax, price regulation/deregulation, CO2 emissions, and pollution controls.
  • 4.411 – Building Technology Laboratory – is an architecture project laboratory that explores how to integrate energy-saving techniques into new buildings. The class focuses on building and testing models, and pays particular attention to applications for developing countries.
  • …and more!

In the lab:

In student groups:

  • MIT Energy Club seeks to bring together all the members of MIT’s vibrant energy community. The club hosts a number of serial programs, including an Energy Lecture Series and an Energy Discussion Series, in addition to large signature events like the annual MIT EnergyNight and the MIT Energy Conference.
  • The MIT Solar Electric Vehicle Team (SEVT) works to build and race its very own solar car, as an example of an “alternately-powered vehicle” that may someday revolutionize the auto industry. Working with the famous Edgerton Center, the team frequently refines their design, drawing upon a wealth of past experiences and expertise in all of the scientific and engineering disciplines. They unveiled their latest car, Eleanor, last month and are currently preparing for the World Solar Challenge in Australia in October.
  • Solar Decathalon is an international competition sponsored by the Department of Energy that challenges college students to design and build an energy-efficient solar-powered house. Last year, MIT’s “Solar 7 Team” developed a Zero Energy Home that draws its power solely from solar energy without sacrificing any comforts of the modern era. Here’s a write-up of their project.
  • [email protected] is a student group dedicated to promoting sustainable development at MIT and around the world. They coordinate a number of events on campus, ranging from the MIT Generator – designed to serve as a starting point for students with big ideas (or small ones!) about how to make MIT a more sustainable environment – to large events like the upcoming Sustainability Summit.
  • [email protected] is a group of students working together to implement a campus biodiesel system. Their goal is to reprocess used vegetable oil from the dining halls on campus into a biofuel that can be used to run the MIT SafeRide.
  • and more…!

18 responses to “MIT Talks Energy at the White House”

  1. K says:

    Fifth yay!

    Fantastic! $150 billion in 10 years. Comes close to NASA’s budget.

    Just waiting for a fusion breakthrough. That achievement would be right up there with the Moon landing. Or maybe even higher.

  2. K says:

    Paul, has anyone told you that you look like Matt Damon? Maybe I’m just too sleepy.

  3. Photon says:

    Don’t forget the Solar Concentrator and the various Course XII environmental classes!

  4. KayCee says:

    oh my lord, first! sorry, couldnt resist. I find it to be great that our generation gets to be apart of this new push towards clean energy

  5. KayCee says:

    man, 2nd. bummer

  6. Christine says:

    Twenty-Fourth! sweet! Sorry, it’s never happened before so I couldn’t resist =)

  7. Anonymous says:

    Fourth. This is the closest I have ever gotten to be first

  8. Reena says:

    It’s about time someone blogged about MITEI :D Thanks Paul.

  9. ddd says:

    HAPPY MOTHER”S DAY!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    You were very helpful on the college fair thing, Paul. The humility and approachability of MIT’s bloggers and staff is always appreciated.

  11. Sheila ('13) says:

    o wow…energy minor?!?!?!?!??! YESSS!!!!!!!!!!!! So many cool things to do at MIT xD!!!!

  12. Arfa '13 says:

    Alternate energy is such a neat research area! probably because of its interdisciplinary and pragmatic nature

  13. Ayush says:

    That’s great that the younger generation is taking steps to conserve our environment.

  14. KayCee says:

    Geez, that Christine chick is a jerk. She totally dissed me on not even her own blog. But to whatever kid who said he looks like Matt Damon, I can kind of see it. Like in the facial structure? I found out yesterday that babies born from c-section have rounder heads than babies born naturally. haha, gross. And the “c” in c-section comes from ceasar, because he was brought into the earth that way. funny, “brought into the earth” still sounds mildly disgusting. Yeah, none of this has anything to do with your blog, sorry.

  15. Kevin '12 says:

    Hey. Wow, what a useful post!

  16. comboy says:

    my linux day:

    2 am: reopen laptop lid, download lab sheet for tomorrow (well 2 morning means tomorrow was a few minutes ago)

    2 + time to read lab sheet pdf: i read this “dive into microsoft…..”

    + tiniest amount of time: i was green (green is violet negative)

    after proper face color was returned: i decided to write GUI with Kdevelop, instead of console

    7 am: my head fell down on my laptop, i slept 2 hours with my laptop lid open, all @ bed

    + 2 hours: wow i have piles of lectures, program is not ready

    next (14:20 – 9) hours: i tried to figure out.

    14:21 i closed the lid and left the room heading to lab.

    14:30 laptop was on the desk
    i had one option(s), to say: i’m sorry it is not working, i need more time

    from this part now on, still everything is realistic and plain truth: i didn’t sit since 14:30 and didn’t touch the lid. (arrived before 14:30)

    from west side of lab, i saw outside through window, i knew and always know which direction is zipcode 02142
    i was thinking of what i can tell to paul later, i’m a shame for linux.

    from this part on unbelievability ratio increases, but i did: upto 16:00 (4 pm – one hour and half) lab assistants didn’t know anything about that i’m not assistant there, i was helping students to understand the problem. such a way a real assistant do, moving freely, i even turned the curtains to make the projection easier to see.
    no one ever knew, i could see who cheat and how. i could see how right i was about those i knew never cheat (they usually get zero). i could see red faces and glowing faces.

    few minutes after 4 pm, mr vice chairman came to lab himself with burst of anger.
    i suggest to continue our discussion in his office.

    in office: i said, if my face is not turning into red, that’s because i worked 10 hours to make this program to work. doing it with microsoft c++ is nothing for me, it was more fun to do it gui c#, but i wanted to do it with linux
    he said: why you don’t do what other students do?

    – i’ll bring next week lab with linux and it will work

    then i came back to lab to take my laptop, assistant asked my name,

    – it’s at the bottom of the list, gimme a zero as big as a silver medal.

    a girl left the lab, she said that she got 0, i was making her find the way to solve. before 3 o’clock she didn’t know “[” is called bracket and { is curly. she wrote sum=num/10+num with her own hands and added ()() and said: here are brackets…
    she got 0, it was hard to stand on my feet when i arrived at the beginning, i wanted to sit and open the laptop lid, but the window turned my head into the right direction. 02142