Making Connections at Johnson Energy Connection

by Robert Collier, MBA’14 (10/12/12)

Robert Collier, MBA’14

On Sept 28, for the better part of the day, Cornell alumni working across the energy industry gathered at Sage Hall to share their expertise with MBA, engineering, regional planning, and undergraduate students. 

For the 3rd year running, Johnson Energy Connection was a huge success.  Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, Energy Club, and Sustainable Global Enterprise Club hosted the event.  On Sept 28, for the better part of the day, Cornell alumni working across the energy industry gathered at Sage Hall to share their expertise with MBA, engineering, regional planning, and undergraduate students.  

In the end, we welcomed 19 alumni and speakers back to campus.  They delivered 17 talks on the energy industry to nearly 100 students.  Chevron, the event’s sponsor, deserves a big thank you for making it all possible.  In addition, all of the fabulous speakers should be recognized for their generosity. 

JEC networking

For energy geeks (myself included), presentation titles like “Light-filled and Light Weight: How Glass Enables 54.5 mpg Cars that We Will Actually Want to Drive” and “Moving Beyond Low-Hanging Fruit: The Future of Building Energy Efficiency” were absolutely mouth watering.   As expected, those presentations, and all others during the day, did not disappoint. 

In the each of the sessions I learned something new about energy efficiency, oil and gas operations, demand response, renewable energy, advanced lighting, project finance, lightweight automotive glass, and more.  And, that was only half of what the day offered.   Here’s a quick snapshot of what I heard:

  • Corning is partnering with auto manufacturers to use Gorilla Glass to shave weight off of cars and trucks, thereby increasing fuel efficiency.
  • The Efficiency Network has developed new methods for evaluating energy efficiency savings in commercial and industrial buildings.
  • New York City utility Con Ed is actively pursuing demand response as a way to both reduce customers’ bills and maintain reliable power during peak use.
  • Paola Meta from Chevron focused on how to increase the representation of women in energy.
  • Altenex’s business model matches companies seeking to expand their renewable energy portfolio with power purchase agreements for long-term price stability.
  • An overview of what goes into energy project financing and how risk is evaluated.
  • Boreas discussed wind energy in the northeast and debunked misconceptions about the potential of renewable energy.
  • The Maxim Group’s presentation focused on global oil and gas development, touching on the local hot button of hydraulic fracturing.
  • The speaker from Digital Lumens steered away from talking about his company, instead providing valuable insight about the job search process.

 

All of the presentations were engaging and informative, but by far the most valuable part of the day came after the official talks were over when current students had opportunities to talk one-on-one with alumni.  For first-year MBA students like me, this was a chance to ask questions, seek guidance, and make new connections that, in past years, have led to job opportunities. 

JEC

What I took most from the experience was how open, honest, and helpful all of the alumni were.  Furthermore, they had an observable and genuine interest in seeing fellow Cornellians succeed within the energy industry.  Some of the internships or jobs I heard about were at places like EnerNOC, Chevron, and Microsoft (although they weren’t in attendance). 

In addition to the incredible value Johnson Energy Connection had for current students, I also noticed many of the speakers networking and forming new professional relationships.  Who knows, maybe we’ll see more wind energy, liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, or energy efficiency because of Johnson Energy Connection.

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