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IGERT Conference 2008


The IGERT in Sustainable Energy from Solar Hydrogen successfully hosted the Second Annual IGERT/REAP Solar Hydrogen conference between July 20th and July 23rd, 2008. This four-day student run conference is a team effort between the University’s National Science Foundation-sponsored Sustainable Energy from Solar Hydrogen Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Minority Undergraduate Research Associates (MURA) Program.

Led by the committee chairs, John Clinger, Keith Douglass and Cory Budischak, the conference was well-attended and many people commented on how successful our second year of hosting it was.

Throughout the four day conference, a host of invited speakers took part. After Provost Dan Rich, Syl Morgan-Smith (NREL) and Fannie Posey-Eddy (NREL), Professor Christiana Honsberg and Dean Vaughan opened the conference, a host of other well-known speakers were present. These included Professor John Byrne (Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) and Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at the University of Delaware), Frank Stewart (President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) , Dr Howard Adams (Founder and President of H.G. Adams & Associates, Inc ) and Gia Schneider (Partner at EKO Asset Management).

The REAP Program Review Meeting (REAP2008) and the Sustainable Energy from Solar Hydrogen NSF-IGERT workshop at the University of Delaware brings together two groups that are rooted deep in renewable energy research at an institution that is equally committed to renewable energy. This student-run conference provides invited and student speakers alike the opportunity to share their enthusiasm about their research/involvement in the area of sustainable energy, with an emphasis on the many aspects and interrelationships of solar power and hydrogen as an energy carrier.

This year we decided to provide the students with a range of group activities to choose from and the trip to Air Liquide, the IEC workshop and PV workshops were all well attended. Many conference attendees also enjoyed the opportunity to “take a small break” from the technical presentations and enjoy group trips to both The Pond ice rink and Klondike Kate’s.

The IGERT in Sustainable Energy from Solar Hydrogen is continually attracting high caliber students with one focused goal in mind: to find solutions to our depleting supplies of non-renewables. Being a part of such a collaborative and sustaining effort allows the IGERT to continue providing positive and rewarding experiences to graduates, AND promote the philosophies of the University of Delaware and the National Science Foundation.

Address Goals

There seems to be considerable overlap between the two strategic goals in the case of this conference, so it was particularly difficult to decide which goal is our primary and which one is our secondary. The conference, in itself, is about advancing and sharing knowledge gained through research over the summer session. It allows minority students to present their research in a forum at the University of Delaware and focus on the way in which it has benefit to future research in a highly important and relevant field.

However, the conference is also about ensuring that science and engineering is an inclusive workforce, and aims to highlight the importance of networking and sharing common research interests. To this end, it strives to expand the scientific literacy of all citizens. The IGERT students thoroughly enjoy having responsibility for the conference. It often takes 5 months of intensive preparation to make sure that this conference is organized. Giving up their research time to do this conference has been a huge time commitment, and the IGERT acknowledges how much work it takes to do this.

But, every single student involved in the committee likes to stress that the reason they put so much time in is because they want it to be a success. Working in sustainable energy has given them a desire to do research in a very important field which is instrumental in advancing this field of inquiry in the United States.