Stephen Goodnick, the David and Darleen Ferry Professor of Electrical Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, and his collaborator Neal Armstrong, the Regents Professor Emeritus of chemistry at the University of Arizona, formed a conference for students from the two universities in 2010 to meet and exchange research findings and ideas related to the renewable energy sector.
“We needed to be working as a state, not individual universities competing against each other,” says Goodnick, a faculty member in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, part of the Fulton Schools.
This collaboration formed the Arizona Student Energy Conference, or AzSEC, which held its 12th annual event in early April in Old Main on ASU’s Tempe campus. The conference also includes Northern Arizona University, which joined AzSEC a few years after it began; hosting duties rotate between the three universities. The universities complement each other’s geographic sustainability specialties, such as NAU’s focus on harnessing northern Arizona’s wind for electricity, while ASU and UA specialize in harnessing the desert’s plentiful sun for solar power.
Originally funded through the Arizona Board of Regents Technology and Research Initiative Fund, the conference is now supported by utility companies in Arizona, including the Salt River Project, or SRP, Arizona Public Service, or APS, and Tucson Electric Power, or TEP, as well as energy industry companies such as Schneider Electric. Representatives from the companies participate in industry panels that give students networking opportunities and insight into the power and energy industries.
The conference also includes a variety of panels and keynote speeches, which feature industry members, government officials and academics. A central theme focused on an energy issue ties together the activities at each conference.