Energy Week 2016: An Overview

It was an electrifying week, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Notre Dame Energy Week, seeing the intense thoughts circulating in the minds of the audience members and participants. Grabbing the attention of mostly students, events also drew faculty, staff, and local community members, all displaying great enthusiasm and interest in learning more about energy and ways they themselves can make a difference through conservation. From the talks to the tours to the Sustainability Festival, events were designed to engage participants and enlighten them on the topics at hand.

The week kicked off with great excitement having the first-year students visiting the offices of ND Energy in 115 Stinson-Remick Hall. Students were incentivized to learn more about the Energy Studies Minor, Student Energy Board, and K-12 outreach opportunities, while signing up to win solar powered prizes. Winners were:  Kayleigh Moore, Conor Fitzpatrick, and Anya Lindholm.


Tuesday afternoon, students were invited to attend a panel discussion on the future of solar power.  Experts in research, technology, and distribution shared their perspectives and answered questions from inquisitive participants. Close to seventy students, faculty, staff, and community members listened intently while Dr. Randall Ellingson from The University of Toledo shared his views on the current advancements and challenges in solar energy research. Nicholas Strevel from First Solar offered his insights on the costs and benefits of utilizing solar energy as a key player in alternative energy sources, and Joseph Karrasch of American Electric Power discussed the future of utilities and the efforts being made to diversify to a more sustainable energy portfolio while ensuring long-term, reliable service. Chad Stephenson, ND Energy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering, served as moderator.

Mid-week, over sixty participants attended a detailed discussion by Senior Director Paul Kempf of Notre Dame’s Utilities and Maintenance Department on the current and future initiatives by the University to be coal free by 2020. Kempf reviewed the various ways in which Notre Dame will utilize alternative energy sources and focus on energy efficiencies across campus.


Three different tours offered during the week were near capacity: Notre Dame’s power plant, the solar array on top of Stinson-Remick Hall, and the Green Garden on top of The Morris Inn. Graduate student Steven Kobosko from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering introduced the solar panels and Research Assistant Professor Ashish Sharma from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences spoke about his green roof research in Chicago prior to the tour at the Morris Inn. The staff at the power plant stepped up to provide tours, as they often do for interested groups. Over 100 participants saw first-hand how Notre Dame is working on conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Students packed the room during the kickoff event for the What’s it Really Like? series that focused on careers in renewable energy. Victoria Trauger from the Notre Dame Career Center showed students how to navigate online tools to locate specific companies for internship and job opportunities, as well as ways to use the vast ND alumni network to their advantage. Second year MBA student Jan Porvaznik shared his insights into types of renewable energy jobs and tips on how to discern career paths.

The week culminated on Friday with the Sustainability Festival, organized by GreeND, outside the South Dining Hall. Students braved the wind while enjoying live music, talking with sustainability vendors, decorating reusable bags, and using their physical abilities to cycle-up enough energy to make a fruit smoothie. What a refreshing end to a week packed full of learning!

View the 2016 Energy Week Photos!

Read the Observer articles, highlighting the Power Plant Tours, Campus Sustainability Initiatives, and the Sustainability Festival!

Read about the History of Energy Week!

Thank you to all of the co-sponsors for Energy Week 2016: Center for Social Concerns, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Environmental Change Initiative, GreeND, Minor in Sustainability, Office of Sustainability, Morris Inn, The Career Center.

Energy Week is an annual event sponsored by ND Energy and its Student Energy Board. Week-long events are designed to create awareness and educate students on critical energy-related issues and topics. For more information about Energy Week, contact Anne Berges Pillai, Education and Outreach Associate Program Director, at or 574-631-9106.

ND Energy is a University Research Center whose mission is to build a better world by creating new energy technologies and systems and educating individuals to help solve the most critical energy challenges facing our world today. For more information, visit the ND Energy website at or contact Barbara Villarosa, Business and Communications Program Director, at or 574-631-4776.