Energy Orientation Introduces Freshmen to Low-Carbon Technologies on Campus and in the Region

Published in MIT News on September 21, 2016, by Chelsey Meyer, MIT Energy Initiative

In one of the last weeks before the official start of classes, 25 incoming MIT freshmen learned about their new undergraduate home — both on- and off-campus — in a pre-orientation program with a special focus on energy. The MIT Energy Initiative-led program, called Discover Energy: Learn, Think, Apply (DELTA-FPOP), was designed as an interactive introduction to topics from wind energy to nuclear power and climate policy — with group bonding activities throughout the week.

Students began the program by exploring the MIT campus on a scavenger hunt to find campus landmarks and sustainable energy features such as solar-powered trash compactors. That afternoon, they built their own direct-current motors in an activity led by Steven Leeb, a professor of mechanical engineering. “It’s a small project,” said freshman Melissa Meloche, “but it’s the first time you get to do engineering.” Meloche, who grew up with a nuclear power plant visible through the windows of her home in Germany, developed her interest in energy amid her country’s debates about nuclear power. The DC motor lab was one of her first “hands-on opportunities.”

The next day, the group learned about how wind turbine blades are tested to improve technology development from George Blagdon, a senior engineer at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown. On a tour of the immense facility, students saw prototype turbine blades, learned about the technology used to test their integrity, and peered into the interior of an old blade outside the building...

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