The MIT Energy Initiative received critical input, advice and insights in the first meeting of its External Advisory Board. Meeting in mid-January, the board, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, was "very supportive of what we're trying to do," said MITEI Director Ernest Moniz.
At its inaugural meeting, the 22-member board "emphasized the importance of an international focus," said MITEI Deputy Director Robert Armstrong, and they "encouraged us to form more international linkups to advance our program." In addition, the board also reinforced "the importance of continuing to develop our communications and outreach into the public discourse about energy issues," Armstrong said. In terms of specific areas of research, the board agreed that a critical area that deserves increased attention is improvements in efficiency, especially in the design of buildings.
MIT President Susan Hockfield established the board to review MITEI's approach to global energy solutions and its current portfolio of activities, and to provide input on policy trends, needs, gaps and opportunities in energy, business, technology and the environment.
The board encompasses diverse backgrounds in energy supply, industry, academia, environmental groups and government, including former MIT professor and Nobel laureate Mario Molina; best-selling author Daniel Yergin of Cambridge Energy Research Associates; former Senator Sam Nunn, CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative; Tony Hayward, CEO of BP; and Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Others on the board are Stephen Bechtel of SD Bechtel Jr. Foundation; ; Denis Bovin GM '69, vice chairman of Bear Stearns and Co.; Susan Cischke of Ford Motor Company; Rafael del Pino of Grupo Ferrovial SA; Arthur Goldstein of Ionics; Baba Kalyani ME '72, chair of Bharat Forge; Anne Lauvergeon of Areva; Lawrence Linden ME '76 of Linden Trust for Conservation; Leonardo Maugeri, senior vice president of Eni S.p.A., which recently announced a $50-million grant to the Energy Intiative; Internet pioneer Robert Metcalfe EE '68 of Polaris Venture Partners; Robert Millard of Lehman Brothers; John Reed, retired chair of Citigroup; Kenan Sahin of TIAX LLC; Philip R. Sharp of Resources for the Future; Institute Professor Emeritus Robert Solow; and James Wolfensohn, former head of the World Bank.
"It's an extraordinarily experienced and knowledgeable group," Moniz said. "Their discussions and suggestions were very stimulating. We've got quite a lot to digest and prioritize, and to benefit from their guidance as to how the work we do can best be leveraged to influence public policy."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 30, 2008 (download PDF).