“We drove our bus out into the middle of sheep pasture paradise to visit one of NextERA’s enormous and remote wind farms. And wow, those turbines are big. In a weird way it was like being in the redwood forest.” That’s how graduate student Alex Osteen M.E.M.’14 described one of his experiences during the Northern California Clean Energy Field Trip. The trip is an opportunity for students to learn first-hand about clean energy technology by touring energy installations and meeting with experts in wind, solar, geothermal, energy efficiency, and policy. They also connect with alumni, such as Melissa Semcer M.E.M.’07, who is senior analyst on climate change market strategies at the California Public Utilities Commission.
Back in North Carolina, the Energy Initiative organizes “Power Trips”—day-long visits to innovative facilities on Duke’s campus, such as the natural gas steam plant, and to energy companies and research facilities across the state. Students walk away with an informed understanding of how the energy industry operates.