On May 4, we had the pleasure of hosting the Schatz Center Advisory Board for our annual meeting. In addition to our customary discussion of Center activities and strategy, we were happy to be able to include the Advisory Board members in a dedication ceremony for our new building addition, which we have been calling the “West Wing.”
During the meeting, we reported our progress toward the Center’s strategic goals—which are derived from our mission to promote clean and renewable energy—and discussed our portfolio of projects, budget, staffing, and space within this context. We were able to report good news to the Advisory Board in multiple spheres.
We noted that our two most active project areas are those related to (i) renewable energy microgrids, grid integration of renewable energy, and associated demand-side management strategies and (ii) improved access to energy in off-grid and marginal grid communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Together with our partners, we have received recognition for our efforts in both areas: in January alone, the Blue Lake Rancheria renewable energy microgrid was awarded the Project of the Year for Distributed Energy Resources at the annual DistribuTECH conference in San Antonio, Texas, while our energy access team simultaneously played a key role at the premier international conference for the off-grid solar sector, the Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo in Hong Kong. We also have current projects and activities in bioenergy, clean transportation, off-shore wind, energy efficiency, hydrogen energy, clean energy policy, and education/outreach. Our staff expertise continues to deepen, and we have ample opportunities for continued work in pursuit of our mission.
Regarding staffing, we have a motivated, skilled, and professional team, and their strengths provide the foundation for our success. Recent additions to the Schatz Center include Dr. Nicholas Lam (research scientist), Kaileigh Vincent-Welling (engineering technician), Richard Williams (engineering technician), and Jessica Ramirez (administrative assistant). We are pleased to welcome them to our team. During the advisory board meeting, we discussed two strategic foci in relation to personnel. We began by noting the importance of expanding our team’s project management capacity to meet the needs of our growing work portfolio. We then discussed our commitment to increasing staff diversity and ensuring a broadly welcoming work environment. We appreciate our board’s thoughtful advice, and we look forward to a continued focus on these key issues.
And, of course, we celebrated our new building and the opportunities that it enables. Importantly, the increase in space—along with a commitment to student mentorship by faculty and staff on our team—has allowed us to hire nine summer student interns. They join seven continuing student employees, for a total of 16 students working with us this summer. This is the largest number of students working at Schatz Center at one time in the history of our organization. We are grateful for the contributions that each student is making to our work, and I thank my colleagues for all that they have done to create hands-on learning opportunities.
Happy summer solstice, and goodbye until next time. ~ Arne Jacobson