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Student research in the spotlight

MIT Energy Forum attendees on May 3 ate their sandwiches and salads while exploring the MIT Energy Club-sponsored poster session, which highlighted student energy research, projects and MIT-affiliated startups.

"We wanted to have a good mix," said graduate student David Danielson, president of the MIT Energy Club, which will hold its own energy conference. "The MIT Energy Conference: Energy 2.0 -- Solving Tomorrow's Energy Crisis" will be held on Saturday, May 13 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Wong Auditorium.

Last Wednesday's poster session was a huge success, Danielson said, noting "At an event like this (the energy forum), a poster session paves the way for more two-way dialogue."

Among the dozen or so posters that lined the walls of the Kresge lobby was one featuring the Solar Decathlon 2007 team from MIT. 2007 is the first year MIT will have a team in the annual competition, which is sponsored primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Twenty teams compete to create solar houses that will be transported to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where they will become part of a temporary "solar village."

The MIT team is working on a design that would be workable for a middle class family, said Corey Fucetola, an electrical engineering and computer science graduate student and a member of the decathlon team. The house will be designed with minimal waste, using pieces that are almost all reusable.

Fucetola and the rest of team said the poster session was an opportunity to meet potential sponsors -- and raise awareness about an important topic. "We need help. This is high-profile competition," Fucetola said. "Thousands of people are going to see our design."

Graduate student Arvind Narayanaswamy of mechanical engineering and his research group had a poster on "Nanoengineering for energy applications."

Narayanaswamy said he hoped the poster session would stimulate discussion.

The MIT Energy Club is sponsoring another poster session on Friday, May 12, from 5-7 p.m. on the first floor of the Stata Center.

The May 13 MIT Energy Club conference in Wong Auditorium will feature more than 35 speakers and panelists.

The event is organized around six panel discussions. Panelists will share their views on solar energy, nuclear power, fossil fuels, biofuels, building energy efficiency and transportation. The program includes presentations of emerging energy technologies from the MIT researchers who are working on them.

Keynote speakers will include Professor Ernest J. Moniz, co-chair of MIT's Energy Research Council and former U.S. undersecretary of energy, and Don Paul (S.B. 1967, S.M. 1969, and Ph.D. 1977), the vice president and chief technology officer for Chevron Corp. Moniz will speak during the morning session and Paul will speak at lunchtime. For more information, please visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 10, 2006 (download PDF).

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