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GEM students gain refreshing outlooks on energy future during special topics course in London

October 19, 2012

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Friends, professional contacts, and refreshing outlooks on the future of energy were just a few of the things that Global Energy Management students took away from their special topics course in London. Ten students from the program took part in the four day course. They toured energy company facilities and met with domestic and international leaders from the industry’s private, non-profit, and municipal sectors. The students also networked with each other as they experienced British culture and visited notable sightseeing attractions.

“The International prospective was good to see from another angle,” said Eric Van Orden, a student in the GEM program. “Overall, it exceeded my expectations and was a great time.”

His classmate, Jonathan Wente, said his favorite part of the trip was the interaction with Shell’s global strategic planning group. The dialogue between Shell employees and GEM students covered a number of topical energy issues and marketplace implications.

“It was an invaluable experience, which provided a global perspective that can only be realized through interviewing players outside of the United States,” Wente said. “This course opened my eyes with regards to the macro energy environment and shed some light on how the rest of the world is solving energy problems.”

Meeting with companies from different sectors within energy was a great experience for Michele Motley, GEM’s graduate advisor. “It gave me a greater perspective of energy as a whole. It’s an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and it gives students access to industry leaders that they may never have had the chance to meet.”

The group met with executives from many companies including: World Nuclear Association, Anadarko Algeria, Shell, BP, IEA – Clean Coal Centre, Valero, Department of Energy and Climate Change, and the Renewable Energy Foundation. They toured the House of Parliament, and also attended a presentation by Dr. Myles Allen, a world-renowned scientific expert in climate change. Allen lectured about authentication and science advancement.

Many of the industry executives encountered on the trip commented to Sarah Loughran, GEM’s Associate Director of Programs and Stakeholder Relations, that they were impressed by the preparatory research the students did and by the level of depth in the questions asked. “Students go from meetings all day, to checking out the Tower of London. It allows students to get out of their bubble, build incredible relationships and get a global perspective,” she said.

This was Professor Herb Rubenstein’s third time teaching the course in London. However, it was the first time his class received a briefing from BP and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. “The course shows students that the world doesn’t look at energy the same way we do and that people’s perspectives change country to country,” he said.

Graduate student Roger Hemminghaus gained a broader perspective on the global trends and legislative environment in the energy sector. “Here in the states, we are still debating climate change, and our opinions have been greatly influenced by the long-term prospective of low-cost natural gas. Through the trip, we were able to see directly that that is a paradigm unique to the U.S., with a European view of climate change no longer debating its existence, but what and how much can be done to influence it, and natural gas prices holding at a level that means they must continue to seek other alternatives in their energy mix.”

Hemminghaus added, “The London trip, or similar excursions, should absolutely be built into the program as requirements of learning. While we learn significantly from our professors and classmates, these excursions are excellent opportunities to hear directly from industry and government leaders on their views of the future of global energy issues. There is no substitute for the value of this direct interface.”

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