Off to a Fast Start with Many Valuable Connections

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ND Energy’s eleventh annual Notre Dame Energy Week morphed into a 10-day event when some very special guests needed to move their event to September 28, providing a grand entrance to an incredibly productive week ahead. Mayors Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend) and Jim Brainard (R- Carmel, IN) entertained and informed a full house in the first Distinguished Lecture of the year, Designing Smart Cities: Mayors Taking Action. Mayor Brainard talked about the growth of Carmel during his six terms in office and the steps taken to create an infrastructure that has been good for public health, growth, the economy, and the environment. Mayor Pete concurred with much of what was presented and explained that local government is more focused on results than party politics. Both agreed that municipalities have a strong role to play in creating energy efficient regions within the U.S., regardless of the politics playing out in Washington.

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Five more presentations were offered during the week of Oct. 2-6. Three sponsored by ND Energy included Joni Hamson of EDF Renewable Services who shared her career path and the future of renewable energy in the U.S.; Victoria Trauger from the Notre Dame Career Center familiarized students with online tools they can use to find internships and careers in energy; and T.J. Kanczuzewski, CEO and President of the local solar company, Inovateus, spoke on his new book, Building a Brilliant Tomorrow: Growing Solar. Two co-sponsored events were Environment, Oil, and Africa presented by Jonny Auestad about Norway’s leadership in helping Uganda develop their oil industry in an environmentally responsible way, and a conversation with Anthony Ingraffea and Adam Briggle on fracking policies in New York and Texas. 

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A new partnership between ND Energy and EDF Energy provided a full day with multiple opportunities for students and faculty to interact with energy professionals. EDF held its annual gathering at the Conference Center on Oct. 3, providing an “Energy Corridor” with booths of information on a variety of career possibilities. Students were invited to attend presentations and network with EDF representatives and other entities over lunch. Many students who participated said they benefited greatly from the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with people who are already working in the utility and supply side of energy. 

Other events during Energy Week included the traditional favorite, tours of Notre Dame’s power plant. New this year was a tour of the LEED features

Smoothie Bike Photo

of the Jenkins and Nanovic Halls, home to the new Keough School of Global Affairs. A documentary, co-sponsored with the Center for Social Concerns, From the Ashes, examined the history and future of coal from many points of view. A special Mass in honor of the Feast of St. Francis was organized by the Sustainability Minor and Campus Ministry. Members of the Student Energy Board provided energy-related trivia questions and prizes for Legend’s weekly Trivia Night. The week was capped off by the Sustainability Festival, co-sponsored with the student group GreeND. ND Energy’s famous smoothie bike attracted a crowd of students interested in using pedal power to create a cool drink. 

Overall, the distinguished lecture with the mayors and Energy Week provided educational outreach to hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community, enabling many new connections.