McDonnell Symposium highlights needs, benefits of cooperation around energy and the environment

Installation of Solar Panels on Hillman Hall at Washington University.

By Hsun-Chia Hsu, a McDonnell Scholar from the School of Engineering & Applied Science: Biomedical Engineering (PhD)

“The future is today’s dream,” said Prof. Telma Franco from Brazil’s State University of Campinas as she succinctly described the motivation and purpose behind the McDonnell International Scholars Academy symposium on addressing global challenges.

Humanity is at a point where we need to make plans to deal with global challenges like energy and the environment from all perspectives in order to live in this planet for the next century with fair enough living quality.

According to the data presented during the McDonnell symposium, urbanization is a big trend around the world, and the energy consumption is increasing continuously, 66% of energy production is drained by cities, and the world is going to need 15 TW/year in the next 10 years. Out of this amount, 66 % will be consumed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, which gives these countries more responsibility to develop renewable energy, low-contamination, and low-CO2-emission technologies to alleviate the predicted 3oC global warming after 2025.

The energy and environment part of the McDonnell symposium consisted of 3 panel sessions as well as two workshops on the deployment of solar energy panels. In the first panel session, discussion was focused on the review of energy production and efficiency of all major energy producing mechanisms. The progress on new clean energy sources such as geothermal and wind were also reviewed. The controversial future of nuclear power generation was also brought up in the session.

Researchers also discussed the development of solar energy panel and its global deployment. It was most interesting to note that solar energy generation, compared to other mechanisms, requires more international cooperation because different geographical conditions on the earth limit the speed of development of solar energy technologies.

The last panel session was an open debate on whether we should put more resources on pushing the development of renewable energy technologies or more on making better strategies to reduce the energy consumption based on today’s status. From the debate session, we could see how eager students want to solve the energy and environment issues. Not just developing new technologies, but considering energy consumption taxes, the social responsibilities of big corporations, the role of universities on this issue.

The solar panel workshop summarizes the work done by different partner universities over the past 2 years and also the applications of MAGEEP international cooperation platform.

In summary, this symposium provided a good platform of knowledge from a beginner level through the cutting edge research. It promotes cooperation between partner universities and educated students to know and face these global challenging that are happening in this young generation.

Read more from the McDonnell Scholars.