An established annual event is the Tufts University Energy Conference, in which Fletcher students have played important roles.  This year, the conference chair is Katie Walsh, a second-year MALD student.  Katie describes her involvement below.

At the end of this week, I, along with 34 other Tufts students (from Fletcher, the undergraduate programs, and the other graduate schools) will overrun The Fletcher School to execute the 7th Annual Tufts University Energy Conference (TEC), April 20-21.  More than eight months of planning has gone into this two-day event, with speakers arriving from all over the country and the world to speak on the issues that define our global energy economy.

TEC is an entirely volunteer student-run initiative.  We plan the content, we contact speakers, we ask for funding, we lose countless hours of sleep and send thousands of emails.  Each year, something new has been added to or tweaked in the conference offerings.  These features stem from the creativity, enthusiasm and follow-through of the conference organizers.  At last year’s conference, we introduced the Tufts Energy Competition, Tufts’ first-ever energy-focused student innovators competition, which I helped initiate as the 2011 Marketing Co-Director.  One group of winners used their prize funds to produce a resource guide on low-cost, sustainable and renewable energy technologies in Zimbabwe; the other used them for materials to create a demonstration high-performance hybrid vehicle.

By no measure am I an old hand at energy.  Before coming to Fletcher, I coordinated a Chinese language program at San Francisco State University.  My undergraduate major was history and many of my professional experiences were in international education.  My intention in coming to graduate school was to develop experience and expertise in a completely new field – energy and the environment.

Now, a year and a half into my master’s program at Fletcher, I find myself chairing this year’s energy conference, working at the University’s environmental institute, and fortunate enough to have secured internships in the energy sector both last summer and this, in Washington, D.C. and Beijing, China. When I actually have the time to think about my experiences thus far (such as to write this blog entry), I am just astounded by how much there is to take advantage of at Fletcher, and Tufts as a whole.

Two years ago at about this time, visiting Fletcher’s Open House, I don’t think I could have predicted all that I would have learned so far, the relationships I would have formed, and the opportunities that coming to this school would have afforded me.  But, in visiting the classes, meeting with professors and talking to students — I did get a feeling that Fletcher was different from any of the other graduate programs I was visiting.  I sensed that it was going to be the kind of place that would appreciate the skills I came to school with — inquiry, innovation, ability to implement and organize — and provide me with the space, mentoring and academic rigor I needed to build legitimacy in a new field.  That feeling has proven all too right.

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