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Conference to take holistic approach to examining energy problems worldwide

The second annual Northeastern Energy Conference will be held this Friday in the Curry Student Center. Image by YoungHee Jang/Northeastern University

Energy experts from across North America in a variety of fields will convene at Northeastern on Friday for a conference to explore some of the most pressing energy problems facing the world today.

The second annual Northeastern Energy Conference will be held in the Curry Student Center Ballroom and hosted by the College of Engineering.

“The goal is to look at the bigger perspective of things by integrating the pillars of technology, business, environment, and policy-making,” explained Rishabh Sardana, E’17, president of the Northeastern Energy Systems Society, which organized the conference. NU-ESS is a graduate academic student group associated with the Master of Science in Energy Systems program.

The goal for the interdisciplinary conference, Sardana said, is not only for experts to share their knowledge with each other, but also to foster thought-provoking, dynamic discussions on energy problems and how to solve them.

“Rather than asking questions like, ‘What is this technology?’ We’re asking questions like, ‘How and when can this technology be implemented?’” Sardana said.

The conference will also feature a free expo from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the first level of the Curry Student Center for students to network with energy companies and explore employment opportunities, including co-ops. Registration for the rest of the conference is required to attend the panel discussions and workshops; the registration cost is $35, though students can register for $20.

Northeastern faculty across disciplines will be joined by a variety of representatives from industry and government for panel discussions on topics such as next-generation utility markets, entrepreneurship in the energy sector, integrating renewable energy into the grid, and energy efficiency in transportation. National Grid President Marcy L. Reed will also deliver a keynote address.

“Having all the stakeholders of a problem on the same stage gives an open perspective to a topic,” Sardana said. “This will lead to constructive discussions—and you never know, we may end up designing solutions to the biggest problems by the end of the day.”

The inaugural conference last year drew roughly 250 students and industry professionals, Sardana said. This year, organizers have shifted to focus more on energy problem-solving.

“Electricity or energy professionals constitute less than 1 percent of the world’s population and they alone can’t save the environment,” he said. “Our job is to engage the remaining 99 percent of the population in sustainability discussions and make them more aware because in the end, we all breathe the same air and will be equally affected by issues like climate change, pollution, transportation, and drought.”

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