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Charting energy's future

MIT energy conference bringing minds together to combat global problem

Leading energy specialists from MIT, other institutions, industry and government will be gathering at MIT this Friday and Saturday to map out the future of energy, focusing on technologies that are capable of scaling up to provide major contributions to the world's energy needs.

This year's MIT Energy Conference, titled "Solutions that Scale to Meet the Energy Challenge," is entirely organized by students. The conference kicks off Friday with the MIT Energy Showcase, an event that is free and open to the public and features exhibits from dozens of energy companies and research groups. Saturday's all-day conference is sold out.

The Friday showcase, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., will feature more than 60 poster papers on energy research as well as exhibits by more than 30 companies. In addition, there will be a variety of interactive energy exhibits. The setting, at the Kendall Square Marriott Hotel, will be informal, with live music, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to encourage mingling and interaction with the many energy company representatives and academic researchers who will be present.

The conference on Saturday features more than 35 speakers from both industry and academia. Among the MIT speakers and session moderators are Howard Herzog, principal research engineer with the MIT Energy Initiative; Jefferson Tester, the H.P. Meissner Professor of Chemical Engineering; John Heywood, director of the Sloan Automotive Laboratory; Andrew Kadak, Professor of the Practice in Nuclear Science and Engineering; and Edward Roberts, David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology and founder and chair of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center. President Susan Hockfield will give the opening address.

Among the other notable speakers will be Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of the Ethernet; P. James Woolsey Jr., former director of the CIA; John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; James Rogers of Duke Energy; and John Holdren of the Kennedy School at Harvard. Panel sessions during the conference will explore cutting-edge topics including carbon capture and sequestration, energy efficiency, geothermal energy, the future of vehicles, nuclear power and renewables.

The Energy Conference and Showcase is an annual event run by MIT's student Energy Club and the Sloan Energy and Environment Club. Although the conference is sold out, the talks will be televised live on campus, in rooms E51-315 and E51-325, and many of its events will be communicated through blogs dedicated to the major topics being discussed. The blogs and other information can be accessed through the conference web site at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 9, 2008 (download PDF).

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