Lyrics like “keep on rocking in the carbon free world, keep on rocking in a green world” performed during a musical act by New York Sea Grant’s Communications Manager Barbara Branca composed the fifth-annual Energy & Environmental Conference’s main ideas.
Friday’s event, hosted by Hauppauge Industrial Association of Long Island and held at the Charles B. Wang Center, was moderated by Chief Learning Officer of CleanTech Rocks David Winchester and featured a panel of experts in the clean energy community.
Winchester said every job is connected to the clean energy field.
“Solar is a whole supply chain,” he said. “It is not just solar panels and installation. There is engineering, there is components, there are all kinds of things that make solar power possible.”
Panelist James Smith, the assistant vice president of Economic Development at the Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center, agreed with Winchester, saying that “everything is energy in a manufacturing domain. It takes energy to make a product and energy to transport a product. Energy is in every form.”
In the panel’s opinion, the conference’s focus on environmental problems has its origins in previous generations; and its solution’s only hope is in the younger generation.
Between 1900 and 1970, nitrogen oxide emissions increased a total of 690 percent, and many other types of emissions increased similarly due to technological advances. Despite the efforts of environmental legislation like the 1970 Clean Air Act, reducing the damage has not totally solved the problem created in the last century.
“You have to change the world. The world as we know it, we can no longer sustain,” Smith said. “My generation and the previous generation before me were highly inefficient. We used up most of your energy.”
Sharing this hope in the “millennial generation” and looking at the environment’s current situation, panelist David Schieren, CEO of EmPower Solar, noted “our political system is failing us; our leadership is failing us. We need to work a lot harder. It is up to this generation of students.”
Speaking to the many students still considering their future, panelist Pat Malone, executive director of Stony Brook University’s Center for Emerging Technology & Advanced Energy Training Institute, told the audience that they “have to have a passion” about what they want to do.
Winchester went on to stress the importance of internships and outside experiences as resumé-boosting opportunities, such as working with organizations “to volunteer and participate in these things take time…However, the return of this investment is almost immeasurable.”
With more than 1.6 million students receiving their bachelor’s degree every year since 2010, an increase from the 1.2 million seen in 2000, the importance of internships in today’s economy was not overstated.
“If you do not perform at a high level…you will be irrelevant to an organization,” Schieren said.
Panelist Dustin Muscato, director of Asset Managing for GPB Capital LLC, added that “if you are not scared every day then you are not really trying.”
Junior electrical engineering major Hayden DeBoer found that advice encouraging.
“I liked Mr. Muscato’s advice,” DeBoer said. “It gives you confidence that, even as a student with very little experience, you can go where ever you want as long as you are motivated.”
Along with this belief, Executive Director of Accelerate Long Island Mark Lesko asked, “If you hear nothing else that I say to you today, contact us and explore the internship opportunities on Long Island.”
Correction: October 29, 2013
Dustin Muscato’s name was reported as being David Muscato, and David Schieren’s name was reported as being David Scheren.