Energy Up Close: SEC Small Group Dinners

Nothing builds community like conversation, but food doesn’t hurt. Over the last two weeks, the SEC Communities and Events teams have been organizing small group dinners focused on specific issues within the field of energy. While some dinners hosted guest speakers from industry and academia, others offer students and community members the opportunity to lead the discussion and share their expertise. From technology to entrepreneurship to energy access, anyone interested in energy can choose a topic they find fascinating.

Hanna Schumacher of the Events team, who led the effort to organize the dinners, said she hoped that they would provide an “opportunity for students to build connections and discuss important topics they are passionate about in a relaxed environment outside the classroom.” According to Co-Vice President of Events Mark Carrington, she succeeded. He called this quarter’s round of dinners a huge success and noted that, with over 70 total attendees, this is the highest participation he’s seen.

Peter Attia, who attended the Electronic Waste dinner last week, said that the event rekindled his interest in the topic. He, along with the rest of the dinner’s attendees, are looking forward to touring an electronic waste management plant next quarter as a follow-up to their conversation.

Last night’s dinners focused on battery technology and the landscape of renewable energy investment. At the batteries event, popcorn shrimp and passionfruit lemonade provided an excellent backdrop for a discussion that covered topics from how the most basic battery works to the trade-offs between safety and energy density to where the most exciting research will be in the next few years. This week’s final dinners will give attendees a chance to chew over utility-scale solar development and the challenges it poses, enhanced techniques for oil recovery, energy efficiency, and the way demand-side resources are changing the energy landscape.