James Madison University

ISAT and Engineering Students Present Research

By: Hannah Austin
Posted: March 25, 2013

PHOTO: JMU StudentsOn Thursday, January 31, twenty students from James Madison University traveled to Richmond, Virginia to take part in Virginia Commonwealth University's first-ever Energy and Sustainability Conference. The nine teams of students joined over six hundred participants to present their own research and gain knowledge on latest fieldwork. The event was held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and featured national leaders from across institutional and market sectors, such as manufacturing, healthcare, commercial real estate, local, state, and federal government, k-12, and higher education. While students presented energy saving and sustainability projects that could potentially benefit the various sectors, professional representatives in turn shared ways that sustainability has changed and improved their organizations. Out of the five attending Virginia universities, JMU emerged as a Commonwealth leader with the greatest number of student teams.

Junior ISAT student Lindsay Nguyen attended with a group presenting on a student-taught class called The Energy Challenge, introduced on JMU's campus this spring. She said: “The class focuses on educating the student body on issues of energy. It is meant to impact the student's outlook on the ways that energy affects our lives and encourage them to implement behavior changes towards energy sustainability. The conference was a great opportunity for networking and branching outside of our school. I did not realize that so many students around Virginia were doing the same things that we are. By holding more conferences similar to this one, we as concerned citizens can reach those who are not as well informed. It builds a community to fight the problem, because we know that tackling a big issue like this is not a one-man job.”

Senior Engineering major and Mathematics minor Parker Helble presented with a team that has been working on a project focused on converting cooking oil into biodiesel fuel since April 2011. He agreed that networking is an important component to advancing the field of energy and sustainability, saying: “Something interesting I discovered at the conference was that there are great sustainable ideas and project proposals floating around everywhere; however, in order the implement them one must present the idea in a way that is appealing to those who will fund it. Going to conferences like these are important for JMU students because it gives them an opportunity to present their research to an unfamiliar audience and to interact with successful businesspeople who have a great deal of experience. These types of conferences are also important to the future of energy sustainability, because brainstorming with a room full of intelligent people with diverse backgrounds and experience can help to solve problems and raise new questions.”

Faculty member Melissa Altman also attended the conference, and said she was impressed by the level of professionalism exuded by JMU students. “Our students were well-organized and did an excellent job,” she shared. “They are doing interesting work and they took care that the audience understood their methods and the significance of the work.”

To view pictures from the event, read speaker biographies, and learn more, visit: http://www.vsbn.org/vcu-esc2013/index.html

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