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Sustainable Energy

Dates: July 14th-25th

Cost: $1,200

Alternative energy… renewable energy… non-renewable energy… why all the talk about energy these days? You mean scientists and engineers study energy? But how? Isn’t there energy in all things? If energy cannot be created or destroyed, why be concerned about how we use it? Why are people talking so much about energy efficiency and what does that mean for me?

You ask, “Is energy exciting?” Why, of course it is! It’s electrifying!

Come join the staff of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks for a in an investigation of Alaska’s energy issues and an opportunity to use your own ingenuity to design and create useful tools to make energy work for you!

As with any real Alaskan experience, this mission will likely involve creativity and resourcefulness (and, of course, duct tape). And what better place could one find such inspiration than surrounded by clever researchers in one of the nation’s most remarkable natural environments?

Our sustainable energy module will turn your heads like turbines in a glacial valley!  We’ll provide an exciting platform for students to apply natural science, social science, engineering, and math concepts to real world issues facing your communities.  Using hands on activities, it is our goal to inspire you to tackle Alaska’s tough energy challenges.  Students in our module will become both well informed consumers of energy and educated decision-makers. Students will also put their active imaginations to practice in a KidWind Design Challenge to build the most productive turbine, focusing on blade design, gear ratios and foundation stability. We know that you have brilliant ideas, so even as we fuel your thoughts and stimulate your mind, we hope to learn from you!

Charles Olszewski

Charles Olszewski has over 30 years of engineering and executive management experience in the power and communications industries. As a registered Professional Engineer, Charles has managed a diverse portfolio of multi-million dollar projects in fossil and nuclear power generation and has led software development projects for power plant simulators, nuclear safety systems as well as advanced marketing communications systems. As a child, Charles was inspired by the engineering marvels developed during the race to the moon in the 1960's and driven by the challenges posed by the energy crisis of the early 1970's. Charles obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Mechanical Engineering specializing in thermodynamics. As a strong believer in continuing education, Charles holds advanced degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marquette University in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering. As the Chief Technology Officer for an alternative energy corporation, Charles is overseeing the deployment of advanced thermal-plasma based gasification technology that will turn common household trash into renewable base-load electric power. The negative carbon footprint power plant will completely destroy the waste generated by a city of 700,000 people while providing all the electric power needs for 48,000 households. Charles will encourage students to pursue careers in science and technology by showing them many potential pathways.

Christopher Pike

"I first moved to Bethel, Alaska in 2004 and quickly fell in love with the Alaskan lifestyle.  Over the seven years that I spent there, I developed an interest in the the rising cost of energy in rural Alaska.  Eventually, I left the state to pursue a graduate degree in renewable energy technology in the lower 48 before returning to Alaska and working at the Alaska Center for Energy and Power.  I enjoy searching for creative solutions to help reduce the state's dependency on imported diesel fuel through a combination of energy efficiency measures and the implementation of renewable energy technologies.  I  also enjoy studying Alaska's solar resource by spending as much time as possible outside skiing, biking, and backpacking in the dynamic Alaskan environment."

Amanda Byrd

Amanda moved from Sydney, Australia to Fairbanks in January, 2002. She quickly immersed herself in the Alaskan lifestyle and that included living in a dry cabin and becoming involved in dog mushing.  She recently ended a 10-year sled dog racing career, but still enjoy skijoring with the dogs in the winter and cycling, running, paddling and hiking in the summer. Amanda has worked as a researcher for the Alaska Center for Energy and Power for over 6 years and recently completed a master’s degree in Renewable Energy.

Her main renewable focus is biomass energy which includes using wood, municipal waste, and recycling as energy resources. Finding viable, local solutions for the rising cost of energy and keeping a community’s economy strong is her dream. Using local human and natural resources is one step towards energy security.  

Amanda's interest in working for ASRA stems from her knowledge and love for the natural resources in Alaska and their use as a renewable energy resource.  Biomass energy is a plentiful resource in Alaska, though when people think of biomass it is not always clear what that is!  Biomass energy is 'anything biological that was once alive'. She also stretches this to include any human, animal, or municipal waste!  And, right now, Amanda's looking at technology that could turn plastic into fuel that we can use for heating.  Imagine a place where our waste could keep us warm and potentially provide power! She would love to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for renewable energy in the laboratory and in the field with students who are enthusiastic about learning.  Amanda also feels that ASRA will allow the instructors to become the students as new ideas gets generated and new concepts discovered. How exciting!

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