Prof. Lave Goes to Washington

Carnegie Mellon Professor Lester B. Lave is stretching his environmental impact beyond the classroom -- all the way to Congress.

He recently testified at a U.S. Senate Committee hearing on Energy and Natural Resources in Washington, D.C. regarding an amendment that requires retail sellers of electricity to obtain certain percentages of their electric supply from renewable energy sources.

After outlining both the challenges and feasibility of implementing a renewable electricity standard, Lave urged the Senate Committee to allow alternative technologies to compete in order to achieve the goals of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.

According to Lave, allowing technologies to compete is likely to discover even better ways to meet America's energy need -- in addition to improving environmental quality, increasing energy security and sustainability, and lowering electricity prices.

Lave told the committee:
    My greatest concern for electricity generation is abating carbon-dioxide emissions. Without controls, we will run out of atmosphere before we run out of fossil fuels. The world has used only 6 percent of the 5,000 billion tons of fossil fuels. Burning any appreciable fraction of the coal, oil and natural gas resources will send atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to far greater levels than humans have experienced and lead to major global climate change. Global climate change, not our stock of fossil fuels, limits how much electricity we can generate from these fuels.
The committee proposed that renewable energy should account for 4 percent of the U.S. electricity production by 2011. Industry analysts think that goal can be reached and possibly surpassed, since renewable energy already accounts for nearly 3 percent of the country's electricity production.

In order to help regions with limited wind and solar resources meet the legislative goals at a lower cost, Lave recommended that committee members tighten the definition of efficiency and eliminate the limit on energy contributions.

Lave is the Harry B. and James H. Higgins Professor of Economics and Finance and professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon and also co-directs the university's Electricity Industry Center.


Save the Date: Carnegie Mellon in the Bay Area

If you couldn't make it to Pittsburgh for the October kick-off event...

Then celebrate the launch of "Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University" in the San Francisco Bay Area this summer.

When: Saturday, June 20, 2009
Where: Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
Who: All alumni are invited

Carnegie Mellon is hosting a number of interactive events focused on innovations that impact our everyday lives. This multi-faceted event will feature:
  • An educational panel of renowned experts focusing on challenging issues of the day
  • Exhibits showcasing our cutting edge research
  • Student performances
  • Special programs that highlight how Carnegie Mellon is changing the world
So mark your calendar for the evening of June 20 and stay tuned for more details.

Not able to visit the Bay Area? The next campaign celebration will be in New York City on September 24, 2009. Or visit the Alumni website to find a Carnegie Mellon event near you.


High Oil Prices a Good Thing?

We all knew it would happen – gas prices are on the rise again. It’s worthwhile to consider the upside, says Professor Lester Lave at Carnegie Mellon. His take on the high cost of oil is just one part of a piece featured on the “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” that aired last summer – also featuring Lave Carnegie Mellon’s Deb Lange, executive director of the Steinbrenner Institute, Professor of Architecture Volker Hartkopf, and alumnus Vinod Khosla (E ’78), who is working on alternative energy solutions.

Almost a year later, it’s still highly relevant: High Oil Costs May Advance Conservation Research.

Long before it became a popular topic for debate among the United Nations, Carnegie Mellon researchers were already working on ways to conserve energy. The university has several LEED certified buildings, green roofs, windmill and solar power, and an array of electric and natural gas vehicles. And the high cost of oil is part of what drives this research and development by stimulating the need for more environmentally friendly solutions.

Be sure to check out the NewsHour piece. It's worth the 8 minutes.


Pay It Forward

Ten years ago, Michael Stevens (CS ’07) was an inspired high school student with big dreams. Now – just two years after he graduated from Carnegie Mellon – Stevens is supporting the dreams of another eager student by funding a Legacy Scholarship.


For Stevens, it is just a matter of “setting priorities, wanting to make an impact and understanding the importance of supporting the next generation of students.”

He’s also appreciative of the Carnegie Mellon grant and additional sponsored scholarship he received while attending the university.

But his Carnegie Mellon experience began before undergrad.

As a high school student, Stevens knew Carnegie Mellon was a unique place – and he wanted to be a part of it. So he enrolled in the Carnegie Mellon Pre-College Program during the summers between his sophomore and junior years.

But that wasn’t enough. He began taking one regular class at Carnegie Mellon during his junior year, splitting his time between his high school and the university. By his senior year, he was taking two classes at Carnegie Mellon each term.

For Stevens, the pre-college program was a wonderful opportunity, which ultimately led to his full-time enrollment at Carnegie Mellon with advanced standing.

As an undergraduate student in the School of Computer Science, Stevens recognized the generosity of Carnegie Mellon donors and wanted to do his part. So he worked as a student Telefund Caller and volunteered with the Senior Gift Committee.

Stevens is now a member of the Andrew Carnegie Society and the G.O.L.D. Society, but he notes that, “You do not need to give a million dollars to make a difference. You just need to make an effort by getting involved, personally and/or financially and by staying connected to your university.”