Monday, November 6, 2017

Student Energy Carleton Hosting “Innovation Jam” to Promote Sustainability

members of Student Energy Carleton seated

Photo Caption: Student Energy Carleton members (from left): Josh Franklin, Aaron Halberstadt, Mary Gramiak, Roberto Chávez, Maheep Sandhu, & Melissa Dosne

An emerging student group that promotes sustainable energy alternatives is calling on Carleton students to compete in its first-ever Innovation Jam on November 9th from 4:30-8:30 pm in Fenn Lounge.

Student Energy Carleton, the first Ontario chapter of an international student organization committed to developing sustainable energy alternatives to fossil fuels, wants students to pitch entrepreneurial ideas – in science, engineering, or policy – that address a sustainability challenge in Ottawa.

“You come, you pitch an idea, you recruit a team and within that team you build an idea into a proposal,” explained Roberto Chávez, the student group’s president, and a student in the Bachelor of Public Administration and Policy Management program (BPAPM).

A panel will judge the proposals and the top three will receive funding. The overall winning team will be able to present their proposal to the Ottawa City Council environment committee.

“The great thing about Innovation Jam is that it starts shaping entrepreneurship and innovation in the minds of students and a proactive approach to problem solving,” said Chávez.

Aaron Halberstadt, the group’s director of green initiatives, said Student Energy Carleton hopes to bridge gaps between students who care about climate change but study in different disciplines.

They care about the climate…but what students typically lack are the means of actually getting involved

“A lot of people care about energy; they care about the climate; they care about making an impact; but what students typically lack are the means of actually getting involved and talking to like-minded individuals,” said Halberstadt.

“Student Energy does really well in providing an opportunity for students of all different disciplines, whether it’s engineering, business, or public policy, to come together and share different ideas.”

The group prides itself on including members from a diversity of faculties and departments, said Mary Gramiak, Student Energy Carleton’s vice-president internal and a Global Politics student.

“There are all of these different groups of people who are working on sustainability and energy-related projects at Carleton, but they were doing it separately,” said Gramiak. “What we’re trying to do is bring those groups together and create a platform where they can share and collaborate and learn from each other.”

“We want to immerse those disciplines to create something really unique.”

Melissa Dosne, the group’s vice-president of communications and an Architectural Conservation and Sustainable Engineering student, discussed how Carleton students and faculty have received the new group.

“We got a lot of feedback that a lot of students are really excited that we’re getting things going,” said Dosne. “I find Carleton has that opportunity to really showcase environmental programs here, whether it be in engineering or public policy.”

An International Movement

Officially established by Roberto Chávez and Maheep Sandhu in January 2017, Student Energy Carleton is part of an international student organization that was founded at the University of Calgary in 2009 to kick-start post-secondary student involvement in promoting sustainable energy.

“Engaging youth in sustainability and energy leads to a more sustainable future,” said Chávez. “I think every single member of our group will become future leaders in making the world a more sustainable place.”

Chávez and Sandhu, the chapter’s vice-president external, co-founded the Carleton student group after they heard a speech by Meredith Adler, the executive director of Student Energy, and realized Carleton needed a platform that would allow for youth engagement in the field of sustainability.

“We got our team together and it was a crazy, but very fun process,” said Sandhu, who is in the Global and International Studies program specializing in Migration Studies. “We basically started from scratch because the way that the chapter program works, it’s very autonomous.”

Student Energy Carleton receives resources from the wider Student Energy organization and uses the money to host forums such as Energy Policy and Innovation: Current Steps to Future Impact, which was held on campus last March.

“It was a combination of a three-speaker panel, an opportunities seminar, and a keynote speech from the ambassador of Costa Rica,” explained Sandhu.

In 2016, Costa Rica was 98.1 per cent powered by renewable energy, according to the Costa Rican Electricity Institute.

“We packed the room and actually passed capacity,” said Sandhu. “Then we had this awesome discussion about the future of sustainability.”

Student Energy Carleton and the Innovation Jam are all about making the connections between students and faculty from different disciplines to facilitate a dialogue on sustainability, said Josh Franklin, the group’s vice-president finance.

“We’re working together to move towards a goal,” said Franklin. “With a group like this, you can talk to other people, bounce around ideas and then get something going, something meaningful happening, on campus or in the city or for the community.”

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