Momentum in the sustainability movement continues to surge as generations of youth demand a brighter future than the one presented. The Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy Students’ Association (ISEEESA) encourages students to engage and be part of the solutions to our global energy and environmental challenges.
ISEEESA’s pursuit of a holistic understanding of issues around energy, the environment and the economy has created a foundation for students to enter this arena and apply their wealth of enthusiasm, while building a solid and useful knowledge base that will be instrumental in transitioning into their careers.
“ISEEESA is all about providing students with unique professional development and learning opportunities in the areas of energy, environment and economy,” says Lauren Rooney, president of the organization. She has been in the role for two years and is the driving force behind ISEEESA’s success and future growth.
It all started in 2006 when ISEEESA was founded by a group of keen University of Calgary students led by Mark Blackwell, a first-year commerce student at the time. “We saw the need for a student-run initiative that could objectively explore the issues around the 3 E’s and play a part in defining the future for ourselves, not just have it happen to us.”
ISEEESA works diligently with its parent organization, the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE), which provides the research insights, systems analysis and the graduates that inform crucial investment and policy decisions by industry and government, in the transition to a more sustainable energy system. This unique working relationship has been beneficial for both organizations, as it has opened a new channel for reaching students while leveraging the strength and expertise of the successful institute, including its research, experience, faculty and staff.
Being a student-run and student-led initiative, ISEEESA’s vision is to provide students with professional development and educational opportunities that foster the growing movement of obtaining a cleaner energy supply, healthy environment, and efficient economy. ISEEESA does this by partnering with stakeholders from industry, academia, government and non-governmental organizations to create initiatives that present a holistic and pragmatic perspective on global issues surrounding the 3 E’s. These initiatives offer engaged students a portfolio of opportunities to further their pursuit of careers in the energy industry or related sectors, and ultimately to contribute to a sustainable future. The integrated approach taken by ISEEESA is unique, interdisciplinary and focused around the following guiding principles on each of the 3 E’s:
ENERGY: The world’s population continues to grow and industrialize, resulting in an increased need for energy. Our unrelenting demand for fossil fuels needs to be addressed, and the opportunities to exploit cleaner resources explored. Without such actions, the global community risks further damaging the environment and increasing uncertainty for a stable economy.
ENVIRONMENT: The engines of the global economy and the pursuit of natural resources to fuel energy demand have had a large impact on the natural balances of this planet. As we move forward, we require sustainable innovations that can allow for us to achieve growth without sacrificing the environment.
ECONOMY: Market forces continue to dictate the allocation of resources in developed and emerging economies. These forces will be critical in developing the energy sources of the future and determining how the world’s growing population impacts the environment.
A sustainable future hinges on achieving a balance between the 3 E’s, an idea central to ISEEESA, its mission and endeavors.
In essence, ISEEESA provides a platform for students and professionals to come together and engage in a dialogue about finding relevant, costeffective solutions for the emerging “real-world” issues facing energy, the environment and the economy.
ISEEESA strives to be interdisciplinary. The executive team consists of 20-diverse students who come from a variety of campuses and disciplines, including business, engineering, law, and environmental and social sciences. This diversity of backgrounds comprising ISEEESA is the foundation for enabling the organization to provide well-rounded programs for learning about the different facets of the energy industry and related sectors, and better prepares students for work within a multidisciplinary environment. The nature of the energy industry requires the emerging generation of graduates to be adaptable, able, and willing to leverage diverse workplace backgrounds and experiences. Increasingly, employers are also expecting graduates to be able to work knowledgably with disciplines besides their own. In realizing this goal, ISEEESA provides initiatives where students have the opportunity to learn, collaborate and network.
ISEEESA’s academic and event portfolios act as a conduit between students and stakeholders. The team strives to realize synergies between members and the community through high-impact programs and events both in and out of a classroom setting. Since ISEEESA’s inception, students have had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience at several energy facilities in Alberta, including the oil sands, wind farms, solar communities and hydroelectric projects. This experiential learning, combined with the opportunities to engage in critical dialogue with peers and industry professionals, results in an integrated framework that students and professionals can use as a foundation to cultivate knowledge and inspire higher thinking.
The Energy, Environment, and Economy Development Program (E3DP) is ISEEESA’s flagship and most successful academic program. E3DP aims to educate students on a wide range of critical issues including industry operations, climate change, and energy markets Three educational seminars are supplemented by a mentorship program, case competition, simulated carbon trading, and a newly added stock-trading simulation. This program provides collaborative sessions where the speakers build off of each other, providing opportunities for students and presenters to discuss critical issues and current events. This program attracts high-caliber speakers from industry and academia. The attendees are top students from postsecondary institutions across Calgary, and they formally apply for their spot in E3DP to demonstrate their commitment. In just three years, the program has doubled in size, with more than 80 applicants applying per year from postsecondary institutions across Calgary.
ISEEESA’s annual Networking Dinner is the most anticipated event of the year, where students, industry, academia and government come together to learn from the featured keynote speaker about a specific issue of concern to not only Alberta, but also the global community as a whole. Students are able to develop their networking skills and gain perspective from some of Canada’s most prominent industry leaders, while industry has an opportunity to gain access to an array of exceptional students who will undoubtedly have an impact on the industry’s future. This year’s Networking Dinner will be held on February 29, 2012, and for the first time will have a silent auction with the proceeds going to the non-profit organization Light Up the World.
ISEEESA’s achievements to date can be attributed to the tenacity and passion of its past and current executive teams. A number of exceptional alumni have already experienced professional success, and have created long-lasting partnerships for ISEEESA within the industry. ISEEESA has fostered a culture of innovation, which has led to several notable projects that continue to grow.
Self-proclaimed “EnerNerd” Kali Taylor leads Student Energy, a global not-for-profit organization that focuses on inspiring students around the world to contribute to a sustainable energy future. The organization began as a single event run within ISEEESA, The International Student Energy Summit (ISES). “ISES began as a simple idea between a group of students in the ISEEESA office and has now reached global proportions,” Taylor explains. ISES is a global biennial forum that focuses on sustainable resource management and the role that students will play in defining the future of energy development. Both ISES 2009 Calgary and 2011 Vancouver brought together over 350 students from over 30 different countries and showcased today’s top energy leaders as speakers. The organization is now in the process of selecting the location for ISES 2013 and has applications from 12 universities on four continents. “Students are future researchers, country leaders, and CEOs. It is important that they are engaged with the energy industry early on; so that they can apply the knowledge they gain in their university years to the challenges facing society. Student Energy and ISEEESA allow students to do just that, and there has never been a more important time for organizations like these,” Taylor says.
ISEEESA’s involvement in other initiatives such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s international Solar Decathlon, along with various national and international conferences and competitions, gives students the opportunity to develop their professional skills and begin their own initiatives for making real change in the industry.
Looking Forward The changing landscape of energy continues to inspire ISEEESA to expand its programs and encompass other vital areas of the energy system, including geopolitics, science, innovation, new technology, regulation, policy and security. This year, ISEEESA announced the addition of a new event to its portfolio: an inaugural International Case Competition, planned for March 2012. ISEEESA will create a solution-driven case linked to the 3 E’s with partner organizations, and will host the competition in an online, interactive setting.
ISEEESA embodies the enthusiasm and keen interest of the student community and adds diversity to the globe’s energy future. Six years after its creation, ISEEESA has seen considerable growth and development, while staying true to its core values. As the organization gains momentum, the reach of ISEEESA’s message spreads to more and more students. In realizing the significance of the role ISEEESA plays, the organization strives to continually explore new opportunities for students to flourish and to shape their own future, in a world loaned to us by our children.
Authors: Lauren Rooney (President), Jodie Hansen (Director Marketing), Dominik Rozwadowski (Director Events), James Douglas (VP Networking Dinner), Kali Taylor (President, Student Energy)
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