They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the case of the 2015 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, the picture is worth a thousand tweets. Lucky for us, GLEI’s Liza Reed was there, smart phone in hand, ready to share the spirit of the event with those who were unable to attend the summit.
The summit was attended by researchers, students and industry and government leaders. Case Western Reserve University sent 17 representatives, including five student researchers. Liza recalls that the spirit of ARPA-E was evident throughout the three days – driving innovation by challenging what was ever thought to be possible in the field of energy.
On day two, three CWRU representatives hosted awardee booths at the Technology Showcase: David Matthiesen, Bob Savinell, and Rohan Akolkar. Matthiesen presented his research on iron nitride alloys to replace rare earth magnets, Savinell on iron flow batteries, and Akolkar on novel titanium electrowinning process. Savinell’s booth was visited by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a moment captured for twitter by GLEI Faculty Director Alexis Abramson. Senator Whitehouse later gave a riveting talk on climate change and pollution, covering clean water and clean energy.
Some other notable presenters included a video appearance by Bill Gates and a talk by ARPA-E’s newly appointed director, Ellen Williams. Gates discussed of the importance of energy for the globe, and declared that “ARPA-E represents American leadership in research.” Ellen spoke of her excitement for her new role and confessed that she is a true geek deep in her heart. She also mentioned the challenges that come with innovation, but also the importance of innovation and looking toward the future.
Ellen’s idea of looking toward the future was a theme throughout the the summit. It was echoed by Ahmad Chatila, CEO of SunEdison, Inc, when he spoke about what steps need to be taken to make solar energy a competitive energy source in the years to come. He urged that by taking risks and changing about how people think about solar energy, the possibilities for the future could be astounding.
As a proposal developer, Liza shared that she usually thinks about energy in terms of what can be found through research at CWRU. Sometimes it takes leaving one’s typical work environment and getting together with all of the great minds in energy to truly appreciate the big picture. The summit was a great opportunity to see all the moving parts across the US – from research to technology commercialization and policy development – and to discuss and debate the open questions of where we go next. Back at CWRU, these insights into the impacts and options for energy will help GLEI continue to develop winning proposals for ARPA-E.