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Emerging club sparks interest in energy solutions

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 02:10

“Practical efficiency” is a term that has become a buzzword in energy sustainability circles. This is the same phrase that Texas A&M Energy Club president and chief operating officer Doug Rickerd and Stephen Hassenflu reiterate when talking about engineering new ways to achieve energy efficiency.

The energy club is a nascent student organization that aims to bolster discussion and promote cutting-edge ideas related to the energy sector. It also brings in experts from the industry with the goal of increasing awareness and knowledge about the field.

“The energy club is on a higher level, a way for students to connect to the industry as a whole. We are focusing on a portfolio of issues; be it oils and gas, renewable energy or sustainability,”

Rickerd said.

While working with the Utilities and Energy Services department, Rickerd said he realized profitability and sustainability could coexist after understanding the steps that the department was taking to monitor and control consumption of electricity. Building on these experiences, the energy club attempts to come up with pragmatic solutions for challenges facing the energy industry.

“We are a new club trying to mesh with the private sector and the University to get everyone involved to form a community working toward the greater good. We are trying to raise awareness about the easy ways to promote energy efficiency. For example, making a building [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design]-certified and using LED lighting are very easy and convenient solutions,” junior finance major Stephen Hassenflu said.

Hassenflu said the clubs main focus is on achieving efficiency without sacrificing productivity.

“We can automate different processes in order to make them more efficient but at the same time we must take care to not trade efficiency for some of the comforts that we have,” Rickerd said. “The best way is to find how to balance the two so that they can work harmoniously together.”

Rickerd said they want people to look outside the classrooms and figure out how they can help. He said the classroom is great for people to get educated, but it’s a real world we live in and we have to work on real challenges.

In order to tackle these real world issues, the energy club works on case studies that address energy-specific topics. It encourages students from interdisciplinary courses to participate and provide innovative solutions to energy problems across Texas. One such recent case study was titled “Power Across Texas.” It addressed the issue of energy dissipation to the border towns in Texas.

The other major initiative by the energy club is inviting speakers from the industry to talk about their research or area of expertise and enlighten students. The last group meeting featured John Messer, manager of Enterprise Information Systems from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Messer provided the students with a very comprehensive overview of the electricity markets in Texas and across the U.S. The overview provided a start to the club’s corporate speaker series.

Assistant professor and head of the electrical engineering department, Le Xie, serves as the faculty adviser to the energy club.

“As the faculty adviser, I am very pleased to see that this campus-wide, student-run organization is thriving in the community. With the track records that the leadership team has shown, I am very confident that their planned events in this year will be successful,” Xie said.


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