When Ben Statler made his historic gift to name the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources this past January, he noted that West Virginia University should lead the nation in areas such as energy research and engineering. A group of students is taking his charge to heart by forming the University’s first Energy Club.
Carl Fast, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, was interested in working on the WVU Biodiesel Project, which performed a market and cost analysis for biodiesel production from dining hall waste vegetable oil. That project has been handed off to the WVU Office of Sustainability, so faculty advisor and chemical engineering Associate Professor Brian Anderson urged him to think more broadly.
“I wanted to start a bigger project that could promote alternative energy resources,” said Fast, who has served as one of the leaders of the ChemE Car Team and as vice president of the College’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. “Dr. Anderson and I talked about creating a more comprehensive energy club that would take on multiple projects at once and grow over time.” Fast added that they used MIT’s Energy Club, which was formed while Anderson was doing his postgraduate work at the institution, as their inspiration.
“Their club has grown exponentially and holds a huge conference every year,” Fast said. “We are hoping ours can grow to that size and level of national stature.”
This is familiar territory for Anderson, who is a recognized expert in the area of geothermal energy and natural gas hydrates.
“My goal is to produce an involved and knowledgeable student body when it comes to energy issues that face our state, nation and world,” said Anderson. “I want them to understand the many complex issues that are inherent in our energy portfolio and to use fact-based energy decisions. There is no better way to educated students than to get them involved.”
Anderson noted that the club has a goal to perform energy projects across campus, such as energy audits and conservation projects, biofuels production and solar installations as well as have an interdisciplinary group of students that are ready to enter national and international student energy competitions. The club is also planning to run a series of discussion groups called Energy 101. Fast said it is their hope to bring guest speakers to campus to present on energy-related topics and to involve WVU experts in this series as well to show the diversity of knowledge on campus.
Follow the WVU Energy Club on Twitter @WVUEnergyClub.
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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon