The sun was out for Tuesday’s 13th annual Energy Fest on the University of Michigan Diag, an event that drew students, faculty and other passers-by with the allure of giveaways (who doesn’t want another reusable grocery bag?) and information.
The centerpiece of the Energy Fest was the distinctive yellow Solar Car, parked prominently in the middle of the Diag.
Jeff Rogers, a senior majoring in computer science, has worked on the Solar Car Team four years, and was part of the crew that won this year’s North American Solar Challenge, a 3,862-km race from Texas to Calgary. His job was to ride in the lead support vehicle, monitoring data on a computer that was fed in from the solar car.
The data was important for both strategy and safety, he explained. With lithium-based batteries, “if you abuse them, they’ll explode.”
The Sustainable and Renewable Energy Student Council also had a booth. The group was formed by UM students interested in creating sustainable energy solutions for developing countries, said Jojo Amonoo, a master’s degree student in mechanical engineering. They’re also pushing for more renewable energy use in the U.S., said Randy Schiffer, a sophomore in the nuclear division of the electrical engineering department.
This year’s Energy Fest – organized by UM’s Utilities & Plant Engineering department – is part of the university-wide Initiative on Energy Science, Technology and Policy, established by UM Vice President for Research Steve Forrest. That broader effort also includes a themed semester this fall for students in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, who’ll be studying “human and social behaviors associated with energy demand,” according to the university.
Homecoming week, from Sept. 29- Oct. 4, gets in on the sustainable energy theme, too, with this year’s motto being, “Go Blue Live Green.” (But not Sparty green.)