Energy and environmental innovation is the focus of a new cross-disciplinary center housed at the University of California, Berkeley, that aims to promote viable global energy solutions.
The center is focused on developing the next generation of energy leaders, increasing collaboration between energy disciplines around campus, and accelerating the commercialization of clean energy technologies.
"The idea is to make Berkeley the premier institution for graduate students and faculty members who are interested in studying energy commercialization issues," said Catherine Wolfram, associate professor at the Haas School of Business. She and Haas School adjunct professor Andrew Isaacs will serve as co-executive directors of the center.
Created through the Management of Technology program, the new Center for Energy and Environmental Innovation serves as a bridge between UC Berkeley's Haas School, Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative, College of Engineering, School of Law, Goldman School of Public Policy, College of Natural Resources, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, College of Chemistry, College of Environmental Design, Energy and Resources Group, and the proposed Energy Biosciences Institute, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The center evolved out of the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative, a two-year-old campus club formed by UC Berkeley MBA students to help students across campus gain experience in the energy sector through career services, real-world project opportunities, and support for student innovation. The collaborative's membership quickly grew to over 400, spurring its student founders to seek funding and faculty guidance to establish a sustainable energy academic program.
"The students wanted to make an impact right away by accelerating the solutions from the lab and research spaces into the public and private sectors, where the results could be realized," said Jit Bhattacharya, a Berkeley MBA candidate who participated in the launch of the center. "Energy is very much an interdisciplinary field, and the center will foster collaboration between the various organizations at Berkeley that are studying energy solutions."
The center will provide fellowships and internship opportunities in the energy sector.
It also has helped develop two more energy classes this fall – project development and finance and the alternative energy speaker series. The speaker series began this week with a lecture by nationally- recognized energy expert Severin Borenstein, a Haas School professor and director of the UC Energy Institute. Future speakers will include Marianne Wu, partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures; Kurt Kelty, director of energy storage technology at Tesla Motors; and Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions.