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Tufts Energy Conference to feature experts from around the world

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 08:03


Jenna Liang / The Tufts Daily

The seventh annual Tufts Energy Conference will be held at the Cabot Intercultural Center on April 20 and 21.

Tufts students are currently preparing for the seventh annual Tufts Energy Conference, a two−day event that that will explore energy issues in today’s society and feature a variety of speakers.

The conference, which will be held on April 20 and 21 at the Cabot Intercultural Center, will feature 33 speakers from industrial, governmental and non−profit organizations as well as professors, according to Katherine Walsh, the event’s chair.

Walsh said this year’s conference, entitled “Transforming the Global Energy Debate: From Challenges to Solutions,” incorporates six panels on the topics of nuclear energy, wind and solar energy; energy production and water consumption; financing renewable energy; energy demand in developing countries and fossil fuels.

The conference’s three keynote speakers are Senior Fellow of the United Nations Foundation Mohamed El−Ashry, Tufts alumnus and Managing Director of Clear View Partners Kevin Book (LA ’94) and Undersecretary for Energy at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Barbara Kates−Garnick.

Walsh, a graduate student pursuing degrees at both The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy School, said the event committee hoped to attract speakers from diverse backgrounds who could offer different perspectives on the energy debate. She said she believes the three keynote speakers accomplish that goal.

“We wanted to have a speaker who comes from a rich international background, someone who could focus on the private sector and a public sector person who can talk about how all of these global issues translate into what Massachusetts is trying to do,” Walsh said, referring to El−Ashry, Book and Kates−Garnick, respectively.

The other speakers also come from all over the United States and the world, according to Walsh.

“They’re coming from offices in D.C., New York and Boston, and if you’re going to do anything that has any international component, that’s where people are,” she said.

In addition to the panels, the conference consists of the third annual Tufts Energy Showcase event, in which students and industry leaders present their research to attendees, interactive workshops hosted by the event sponsors and the second annual Tufts Energy Competition, in which undergraduate and graduate students will compete for a $3,000 first prize and a $2,000 second prize.

“The project should be innovative, feasible and have support from stakeholders to make sure that [the applicant] can actually pull the project off,” Walsh said.

Corporate sponsors include Chicago Bridge and Iron, BP, EnerNOC and Enel Green Power while the institutional sponsors are the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), the Center for International Environment Resource Policy, the Office of the Provost, The Fletcher School and the Office of Student Affairs, Walsh said.

Tickets are $15 for Tufts undergraduate students and can be bought from the conference’s website. Tickets include access to all of the panels, keynotes, workshops and the showcase event, as well as two meals, according to Marketing Co−Director Geoffrey Finger.

Finger, a first−year student at The Fletcher School, believes that Tufts is the perfect place to host an energy conference.

“Tufts is unique in its expertise in engineering, economics, urban planning and international affairs, so we think it’s a really robust academic community where we can bring some of the most pressing challenges of the energy sector to conversation,” he said.

He believes that one advantage of attending the conference is that students can network with energy experts and potentially find internships and jobs.

Walsh said that the symposium’s intimate environment, typically with fewer than 300 speakers and attendees overall, makes it easy for students and others to make connections with these professionals.

Walsh also believes that students with a variety of interests would be able to find something at the conference that piques their curiosity.

“We’re trying to create a conference that brings everyone together,” she said. “Naturally, it’s a good fit for someone who’s studying environmental or engineering issues at Tufts, but it could also be interesting to someone who’s studying international relations, development, or health.”

Walsh added that the executive committee is looking for students interested in organizing the conference next year.

TIE Administrative Director Antje Danielson believes that both students and faculty will benefit from attending the conference.

“I hope that a lot of students participate because … they can get a good grasp of what today’s energy issues are and how they can apply themselves to these very important issues,” she said. “The organizing committee brings high−level speakers every year, so I think it would also be very good for faculty members to see where they can make connections in the interest of the students.”

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