Powering the Future in Chicago: Back to Back Energy & Sustainability Programs at UIC, April 2019

UIC Symposium on Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (SEES)

UIC Energy Initiative in partnership with Undergraduate Student Government hosted a student research symposium highlighting three student research projects. UIC graduate student pursuing a MS in Civil Engineering, Shahwaar Khan and UIC undergraduate student in Communications, Eric Nwachukwu, presented research on the roadmap to improving utilization of mass transit for the UIC community from the UIC Sustainable Mobility Spring 2019 program. The UIC Sustainable Mobility program focused on potential transportation pilot projects for UIC’s campus. John Murlow, a PhD candidate in Civil Engineering at UIC, presented on the interrelationship of fossil fuels and renewable technologies, and posed the solution that we must focus on reducing over consumption rather than producing more cleaner energy. Katie Welko, an undergraduate student from Columbia College Chicago was our final presenter and talked about the impact of sustainability in the fashion industry.

A highlight of the afternoon was the keynote address from Melissa Lee, CEO and Founder of The GREEN Program, a program that gives students the opportunity to study sustainability abroad on a 10-day research experience. Lee spoke on innovation and entrepreneurship in the sustainability industry. She addressed that not every job will have sustainability in the title, but many, if not all, jobs will have its own sustainability focus.  

Climate Change and Future of Energy Conference (C2FE)

C2FE followed SEES with a focus on an expert panel discussion with seven energy representatives across different sectors — Harriet Seymore of Ayam LLC, H. G. Chissell of Advanced Energy Group, George Crabtree of UIC and Argonne’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, Melissa Lee of The GREEN Program, Sylvia Panek of Natural Investments, Kristen Brown of Exelon, and the former Chicago Mayoral Candidate Amara Enyia. The panel was moderated by UIC’s energy and sustainability expert, Elizabeth Kocs, Director at the UIC Energy Initiative. The panel discussion focused on the impact of climate change on the future of energy and how each industry sector can and has been planning and implementing change.

Some inspirational quotes from the speakers included:

“Inspire progress to be a part of something. Follow your intent” (H.G. Chissell)

“Do one thing better. Practice sustainability without judging others. Lead by example and others will follow” (Melissa Lee)

“Bring people along in your journey, get them invested. Be humble and authentic” (Kristen Brown)

“Invest your money where your values lie” (Sylvia Panek)

“Be true to your heart” (George Crabtree)

Former mayoral candidate, Amara Enyia provided a keynote address prior to the moderated panel highlighting points from her campaign to address energy and sustainability equitably in the City of Chicago. She shared her personal experiences, provided a voice for impoverished Chicago neighborhoods, and presented solutions to the struggles that plague those neighborhoods, including food and transportation desert. Enyia then fielded questions from the audience, and inspired the young audience to take up action by being the voice of change in Chicago.