Skip to main content

The future of renewable energy science: Ariz. university students

Students discuss energy at Arizona Student Energy Conference
April 07, 2014

University students from across Arizona set aside in-state rivalries April 1-2 to plan for a better global future at the Arizona Student Energy Conference (AzSEC) at Arizona State University.

At the conference, 95 students from ASU, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University presented their work on new photovoltaic technologies, the power grid system and new programs dealing with energy policy and its implementation. Participants also interacted with guest speakers, including Mahesh Morjaria, vice president of global grid integration at First Solar, as well as staff and faculty.

“The research that our students and faculty conduct at Arizona State University and NAU and UA aims to impact energy, from the technology we use, to the way in which we generate the energy, to the policies which regulate that energy use and creation,” said Stephen Goodnick, deputy director of ASU LightWorks and professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

“At the Arizona Student Energy Conference, students not only have the opportunity to learn from each other, but they are also able to test their ideas out on industry leaders and top level researchers and faculty. This is a real world experience that could help students take their projects to the next level and make a real global impact.”

This year marked the first time NAU participated since the conference’s conception in 2011. Ana Dyreson, a mechanical engineering master’s candidate at the NAU Institute for Sustainable Energy Solutions, said the conference gave her the opportunity to network with peers from other backgrounds and institutions.

“I gave a presentation about the research I've been focusing on for the last two years, and heard about the things that my counterparts at ASU and UA have been working on,” Dyreson said. “Many of us are working on solar photovoltaics, but with very different research focuses. It was really cool to take off the 'blinders' and hear about the other graduate projects, and it was a great chance to make some connections around the state.”

Participating students were able to vie for cash awards during the poster presentation portion of the conference. Poster presentation winners this year included: Marely Tejeda, Yongjie Zou and Ian Pahk from ASU; David Racke, Mike Liao and Juan Russo from UA; and Devon Martindale and Kelsey Morales from NAU.

This annual conference is made possible by ASU LightWorks, an ASU initiative that unites resources and researchers across ASU to confront global energy challenges. The conference is also supported by UA Renewable Energy Network and the Institute for Sustainable Energy Solutions at NAU. Tucson Electric Power Company and Research Corporation for Science Advancement were also sponsors of the event.