The Fifth Annual Sustainable Energy Forum

Attendees gathered in the Chestnut Room.

YSU STEM held its Fifth Annual Sustainable Energy Forum June 3rd and 4th, 2013. The two-day event welcomed speakers and panelists from around the nation, who talked about the interaction of advanced manufacturing, natural gas, and sustainable energy technologies. President Cynthia Anderson, Representative Sean O’Brien, and Congressman Tim Ryan greeted guests and speakers with excitement about the revitalization that is occurring in the Youngstown area, and the role of advanced manufacturing in the growth of the regional economy.

“We are very proud to have this tradition going,” President Anderson said about the Fifth Annual Sustainable Energy Forum.  Anderson went on to thank all of the collaborators for contributing to the success YSU has had in the area of sustainable energy.

Representative Sean O’Brien discussed the role the shale industry, manufacturing, and higher education play together to revitalize the area. He also spoke about how the unemployment rate has decreased from around 15% to around 7% due to efforts in advanced manufacturing. Representative O’Brien went on to tell guests that developments in sustainable energy would help the United States stay on top of technology development. He concluded by stating that advanced manufacturing could lead the way from the biggest recession in eight decades.

Congressman Tim Ryan provided extensive comments about additive manufacturing and the Youngstown area. In addition to saying that he “wouldn’t want to play the economic development game with anyone other than the team assembled [at YSU],” Congressman Ryan said that we, as a nation, need to invest in education so that students and young people can grow.  One of the major points of Congressman Ryan’s message was the relationship between risk, reward, and failure. Noting that the United States is a nation of “calculated risk takers,” he indicated that both educators and society need to teach people how to overcome adversity if they should fail.

Additional comments throughout the day focused on the opportunities provided by alternative fuel sources. The real surprise came Tuesday, when Dave Mrowzinski, program manager at IGS Energy in CNG Services, announced that the Valley would be a new location for a compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station.

Not only were students at the Sustainable Energy Forum able to learn about additive manufacturing and sustainable energy, but they also were able to visit with companies with whom they could potentially work. Throughout the event, tables were set up for students and guests alike to learn more about the individual companies that support the Sustainable Energy Forum. On Monday evening, there was also a networking mixer for the guests, as well as numerous networking breaks throughout the event that provided plenty of opportunity to participants to interact and learn more about area interests in the sustainable energy arena.

With significant expansion into additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, the Forum expanded will beyond its traditional emphasis on alternative energy sources. Additive manufacturing involves the production of parts by additive deposition of material, rather than subtractive machining of material from a larger piece. Presentations from Ed Morris, Director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, Kelly Visconti, Technology Director from the Advanced Manufacturing Office at the US Department of Energy, and Craig Blue, Director of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, provided a tutorial for Forum participants as to the energy impacts of additive manufacturing, specifically in terms of the efficient use of resources.

The YSU Sustainable Energy Forum was also able to welcome a group of special guests, MINDDRIVE, a team of at-risk students from Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, who produced a fully electric vehicle that they are driving to Washington. The kids in the MINDDRIVE program presented their vehicle to Forum participants and stayed to answer questions ranging from who got to drive the vehicle, to how long the batteries would last. Needless to say, YSU STEM would love to have these students as future Penguins, and as future STEMians.

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