National Student Conference on Green Tech to be Hosted by UB

By Brian Peters

Release Date: October 18, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will host the 2011 Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) national conference Oct. 20-23 on the UB North Campus.

The conference theme is "Green Tech: Sustainable Cities in the 21st Century," and according to ESW, the goal is to create "a world in which engineering fosters environmental, social and economic sustainability to improve both the quality of life and the condition of our planet." The conference will highlight student projects that seek to improve the community in an environmentally conscious way, such as park building and home energy conservation improvements.

Talks will focus on energy and natural resources, industry, and campus and community.

UB was selected to host the conference based on the strength of its proposal, which cited unique aspects of Western New York, including its heavy use of hydropower and the university's ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability.

Keynote addresses will be given by Gary Stottler, a General Motors engineer focused on fuel cell activities, and Warren Emblidge, president and CEO of McCullagh Coffee.

Speakers will include Carl Lund, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and former chair of chemical and biological engineering at UB; Albert Gilewicz, UB assistant director of utility operations; and Walter Simpson, who served for 26 years as an energy officer for UB, leading the university's nationally recognized campus energy conservation program, before retiring in 2008.

Also speaking will be Adam Menter, manager of creating education content for Autodesk, a software design company; Hector Guevara, president of NuEnergy Technologies; and Bill Nowak, CEO of Buffalo Clean Energy.

Tours of the Niagara Power Plant and the single stream recycling plant now in use by UB will be included in the conference.

The conference will feature a project poster session, describing sustainability projects in which ESW members have been involved.

"I am most looking forward to connecting with other ESW chapters from around the country," says Michael Alcazaren, president of UB's ESW chapter and a native of East Amherst who will graduate next year with a dual-degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. "These conferences are always a great way to get inspired to bring new projects to your campus, as well as see what your peers who have similar interests have been doing."

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, there will be an optional service project in Delaware Park for all conference attendees. Participants will coordinate with Stephen Nagowski, manager of volunteers for the Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy, to remove invasive plant species from the park. Eventually these will be replaced with native plants, restoring the park to its natural beauty.

UB's chapter of ESW has about 40 active members, who use their knowledge of engineering to work on projects that improve the community.

To help fund some of its projects, the club sells smoothies from a cart powered by the sun that members built with a solar panel that was donated by UB Facilities.

UB's ESW also teams with Apollo Alliance, a local carpentry and painting union, to weatherize low-income housing around Buffalo using a Home Energy Conservation Kit, or H.E.C.K.

"We also have a park project where we take vacant lots and convert them into parks for the community," says Alcazaren. "We recently finished a park at 192 Wakefield Ave. where there used to be an abandoned house, which was demolished, and now has a park bench, open area and garden for the community."

"This student chapter is very active in community service," says James Jensen, director of undergraduate studies and professor of environmental engineering, who also serves as faculty advisor to UB's ESW chapter. "Some of their projects benefit the community directly, while others help educate the community about sustainability."

To show how these renewable sources of energy are harnessed, ESW exhibits its Solar Smoothie cart and a bicycle that generates electricity at local schools and museums.

The 2011 ESW conference is sponsored by Autodesk, Sun Edison, Cameron and National Fuel.

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The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system that is its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.