Becoming a renewable energy engineer, part 2 (with videos)

July 26, 2009 | categories: energy, engineering | View Comments

I was invited to speak at Olin College a few months back as part of a seminar series about sustainability and engineering. The talk was indirectly inspired by my previous post on the topic. (By the way, Olin is great. If I were going to engineering school now, I'd definitely apply to Olin.) The folks at Olin recorded the talk, and after some manipulations with mpgtx, it's now up on Youtube.

The video is posted in 6 parts below. If I had to summarize in a few lines what I said, I'd say:

  • Most importantly: answer the right question.
  • If the question is, "How can I use our current energy infrastructure to propel myself in a 4000 pound steel cage?" the right answer is, "Build a hybrid SUV."
  • If the question is, "How can I kill more efficiently?" the right answer is, "Make robots kill on my behalf."
  • These are the wrong questions. Right now, the crucial questions we need to answer involve balancing our desire for the fruits of energy consumption against global heat death.
  • Differential equations: learn to solve them by computer. Learn when to distrust that computer.
  • Take statistics.
  • If a class is boring, it's because it's taught poorly. There are no college classes in boring subjects.
  • Go broad first. Going deep is fine if you have the passion, but as an investment, it's unlikely to pay off.

Direct links: Becoming a renewable energy engineer [1 of 6] Becoming a renewable energy engineer [2 of 6] Becoming a renewable energy engineer [3 of 6] Becoming a renewable energy engineer [4 of 6] Becoming a renewable energy engineer [5 of 6] Becoming a renewable energy engineer [6 of 6]

The videos themselves:

Thanks to Matt Ritter, Elsa, and the rest of the Olin folks who helped with the video taping and mucking around with the video files.

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