Tech’s lead on energy

Photo courtesy of Vishva Natarajan, Student Publications

Students and energy professionals met in the Klaus Research Wing for two action-packed days before spring break to participate in the Southeastern Energy Conference. Organized by Tech’s Energy Club, the conference saw keynote speakers, panel discussions and poster presentations geared toward solving some of the most pressing energy problems in the world.

Jason Hirschey, one of the event coordinators and third-year Ph.D. ME, shared his perspective on this unique event. 

 “This is the seventh year the club has hosted the Southeastern Energy Conference,” said Hirschey. “It’s a really cool way for the Energy Club to showcase some of the projects outside of Georgia Tech in the greater metro Atlanta area to Tech students passionate about energy.”

“Today we have Andrew Ingram from Southern Company, who worked on the microgrid project in Tech Square, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia. It’s a cutting-edge technology,” Hirschey continued. “Having Andrew come and speak today is really good because it shows that Georgia Tech really is premiere when it comes to the energy field.”

Researchers, students and professionals at Tech continue to ensure that Tech stays premiere in the energy field as the community works to stay informed of the latest developments. With nominal fees for entry and two full days of engaging activities, The Southeastern Energy Conference offered a valuable opportunity for Tech students to do just that.

Strolling around the Klaus research wing, one could see dozens of poster presentations set up along the perimeter of the hall. One of these posters belonged to Bryan Hare, second-year Ph.D. CHE, who explained his cutting-edge research.

“I’m studying the catalysis fundamentals and kinetics of aqueous phase reforming,” Hare explained. “It’s pretty much to produce hydrogen from biomass. We can use that hydrogen for energy on-site; for example, for reusable plastics and for reactions in pharmaceuticals,” said Hare.  

Hare also explained why he finds events like the Southeastern Energy Conference to be of value to the Tech community. 

“I love Energy Club,” said Hare. “And presenting is always fun to do, especially on the poster. I like presenting.”

Indeed, for many students with poster presentations, the conference provided an opportunity to practice the skills and activities scientists are frequently involved in, namely presenting research and answering specific, impromptu questions about their work.

Another event coordinator, Azell Francis, fourth-year Ph.D. IAST, provided further insight into the importance of practicing research fundamentals, especially in a city as global as Atlanta. 

 “Atlanta is the hub for energy and innovation, and Tech is one of the top public institutions for energy,” said Francis. “The conference is an awesome opportunity for students to experience a scientific conference almost for free.” Francis shared her dream of continuing to grow the conference in the future. 

“We rebranded it from the Southeastern Expo now to the Southeastern Energy Conference,” Francis explained.  “It’s the hope that with a new marketing strategy and reaching out deliberately to have a lot more cross-campus collaborations, that we’ll have even more students attend in the future.”