Community Outreach by ND Energy

Energizing the Alumni during Winter Sports Weekend

Beginning the New Year with a new partnership, ND Energy participated in the Alumni Association’s roll out of “ND for the Environment.” On Saturday, January 7, while undergraduates were still home on break, alumni and friends of the University spent time on campus for the annual “Winter Sports Weekend.” Before heading to the men’s basketball victory over the Clemson Tigers, 250 visitors stopped by the Jordan Hall of Science to learn about energy research on campus and other sustainability efforts. Graduate students affiliated with ND Energy provided hands-on activities related to their solar and fuel cell research in addition to a demonstration of separation techniques and their usage to create new materials. Our popular “smoothie bike” gave visitors the chance to transfer some of their energy into a blender for a delicious treat.

Encouraging the Next Generation of Energy Researchers

Science Alive!

Science Alive 2017

On Feb. 4, ND Energy helped the St. Joseph County Library celebrate its 25th annual Science Alive! event in a big way. With ten affiliated labs participating, we overflowed our traditional “Energy Room” out into the lobby and provided educational hands-on exhibits for over 850 members of the community. While the activities were aimed at younger participants, posters and researchers answered many questions about their work and the future of energy to adults.


Science Alive 2017

ND Energy affiliated labs that participated were those of Dr. William Phillip, Dr. Bill Schneider, Dr. Kyle Doudrick, Dr. Haifeng Gao, Dr. Svetlana Neretina, Dr. Jennifer Schaefer, Dr. Abigail Mechtenberg, Dr. Jonathan Whitmer, Dr. David Go, and Dr. Prashant Kamat.



Hundreds of area K-12 students gathered in Notre Dame’s Stepan Center on March 4 to participate in the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NIRSEF). Among those in the early morning throng were six volunteers from ND Energy’s Student Energy Board (SEB). These undergraduates interviewed junior and senior level energy related projects to determine the quality of the work and the energy IQ of the presenters. By noon, two projects were chosen as winners of the 2017 Energy Award.

On the junior level, Cole Klinedinst, a sixth grader from Discovery Middle School in Granger, won for his project, “Capacitors- How Much Energy Can a Leyden Jar Store?”. Cole was inspired to experiment with Leyden jars after researching Benjamin Franklin for a school assignment. Franklin was the first to use the word “battery” to describe connecting jars to build up more storage capacity. Like the researchers at ND Energy, Cole was trying to maximize energy storage.

The senior award went to a team from Elkhart Memorial High School, Romikumar Patel and Diego Reynoso, for their experimentation on “Artificial Photosynthesis.” As part of a brand new research class at their school, the pair ran over 100 tests in search of an effective catalyst. They were very knowledgeable of ongoing photosynthesis research and enthusiastic about the future potential of using sunlight to reduce air pollution and create new biofuels.

SEB members who helped with the judging were Justin Blake, Yilong Yang, Emily Black, Shane Andersen, Beruchya Dao-Bai, and Francie Fink. The SEB helps to educate the community about progress being made at Notre Dame toward renewable energy by volunteering in local schools and at events such as the science fair, in addition to engaging the Notre Dame campus during Energy Week and throughout the year.

Getting to Know our Neighbors

Madison Primary Center Logo

After weeks of meeting in small working groups to brainstorm about ways to explain energy to fourth graders, 15 members of GreeND and ND Energy’s Student Energy Board spent a Friday morning at James Madison Primary Center in downtown South Bend translating physics into reality. Small groups of junior researchers rotated around to different stations, using infrared thermometers, solar cars, ultraviolet flashlights, fluorescent crayons, and a radiometer to better visualize and experiment with energy transformation. They were encouraged to dream big and become the next generation of scientists and engineers who would work toward evolving clean, renewable energy choices.

ND Energy began its partnership with its young neighbors last year by first visiting the students at Madison and then inviting them for a day on campus. Although the schools are less than two miles apart, most Madison students only come to campus through university-sponsored outreach programs and rarely do Notre Dame students get the opportunity to visit area schools. So this experience resulted in both sides learning a lot and developing what we hope will become a long-term, standing relationship.

A struggling school in the past, Madison is poised to make a strong turn around after earning STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) certification from the state of Indiana. By forming strong partnerships with community institutions such as Notre Dame and ND Energy, Madison will be using hands-on STEM activities to peak the students’ interests and natural curiosities. ND Energy is part of an ND contingent that hopes to form a long-term relationship for the betterment of both.


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.