Monthly archives: May, 2015

Announcing the 5th Annual Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy

Presented by

University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Initiative & UI Labs

in partnership with

Argonne National Laboratory | Clean Energy Trust | Energy Policy Institute at Chicago (UC) |

Institute for Sustainability & Energy at Northwestern (NU) | Loyola University | Wanger Institute

for Sustainable Energy Research (IIT)

The SISE Program

The Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE) is a two-week intensive workshop and lecture series for students and professionals. From August 6-18, a diverse body of participants will engage a broad spectrum of energy and sustainability-related topics through daily presentations, collaborative projects, mentoring activities, site visits, and networking opportunities with leading research institutions and companies in the digital technology and energy sectors. The issues presented will be of interest to scientists, economists, political scientists, urban planners, engineers, architects, and entrepreneurs. Graduates leave as thoughtful and informed global citizens with a firm foundation and expanded network for careers in sustainability, energy, and smart technology and infrastructure.

2015 Theme: Digital Rebirth

Digital technology now allows us to capture the dynamics of entire systems, from manufacturing lines to the electricity grid to the flow of people, cars, water, and waste. Given the need to service concentrated population clusters, cities in particular can take advantage of digital technology and the Internet of Things to improve systems delivering energy, water, and transportation. Yet this requires addressing such challenges as retrofitting or replacing aging infrastructure, data collection and management, privacy issues, cybersecurity risks, and the formation of new business and financing models.

SISE will

1) explore the crossroads of digital manufacturing, smart cities, and energy;

2) dive deep into specific applications such as smart grid and the connected vehicle; and

3) theorize how these innovations can usher in a more sustainable future. Topics will revolve around integration; sourcing and use of supply; reduction of waste; energy and resource demands; big data collection and use; anticipation, reaction, and adaptation to the unexpected; and sensors, connectivity, and cybersecurity.

Now Accepting Applications

Admission into the program is highly competitive, drawing from a national pool of applicants. Applicants accepted into the program can expect to receive lodging support for the duration of the 2-week program and some meals on weekdays. Many will receive partial support for travel costs

Senior-level undergraduates (as of the fall of 2015), graduate students, and professionals working in the fields of sustainability and energy who are living, working, or studying in the United States are eligible to apply. An online application form, a resume, and three letters of reference are required. Applications will be accepted through July 1, 2015.

More information is provided on the SISE website.

We invite you to learn more about the SISE program by visiting us on the web. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Thomas Aláan (, SISE Program Coordinator. We look forward to seeing some of you in Chicago this summer!



Smart Grid at UIC

I am SmartGrid intern, which is lead by the office of sustainability and African America Cultural Center. My role is to educate people about the sustainable usage of the SmartGrid meter. So far we are working on better understanding of its usage so then later on we can pass our knowledge to others. We learn through events and different seminars about sustainability. One of the events that I enjoyed the most was Conscious College Tour Town Hall meeting. During that event we learned how things that we do everyday can be more sustainable. We also talked about what can we, as students, change in our campus to make it more eco friendly. The more events like that I participate in the more I learn how much impact we as students have on our planet and how important it is for us to keep it healthy. The internship taught me to make sustainability my habit, meaning I consider not only my health during my day-to-day decisions but also the health of Earth. As a future electrical engineer I think that such a mentally will be really beneficial to me and the Earth in future career choices. So far this internship made sustainability a part of me and I will definitely be continuing to be involved in it after this internship ends.

Paula Debkowska

Smart Grid at CASL

Min-1For my internship in the office of sustainability is about Smart Grid, which is a win-win way to save energy/money for both customers and energy station. I help UIC and Chinese American Service league (CASL) to promote save energy for our environment through ComED Smart Grid plan. I used to learn Electronic and computer engineering when I was in my formal university in China. Now my major is public administration which teaches me about the collaboration among government/private/non-profit sectors and balance the benefits/conflicts from different organizations. I am glad to do the internship for smart grid that can combine what I have learnt in the past and present.

In campus, we create events and promote sustainable behaviors (The #Caughtgreenhanded and student/faculty interview report) to UIC students to make a greener campus. For these events, we develop a work plan and work as a team, which makes me develop more understanding about the internship. I gain lots of knowledge from professors with various background during the weekly meeting, such as how to recycle, environmental facts in the world and US, and recycle in UIC. I also share what I learn from these meeting with my friends and classmates to exchange ideas.

In Chinatown, CASL hosts community events to share ComED Min-2plans for Smart Grid. I collect information about smart grid from ComED’s website to make PowerPoints about saving energy plans and translate them into Chinese to make these plans from ComED more understandable for Chinese community. These energy saving plans are important for reducing the electricity usage in households. If every household saves some electricity daily, we will have a great amount of savings from energy in our city.

I believe environmental issues are something everyone should take action on, including the Chinese American community and the UIC community like faculty and students. I think culture and ethnicity doesn’t matter when we take actions for our environment. I hope my internship will bring what I learned from UIC to the Chinese community and students to save more energy and make their behavior more sustainable, which can make the earth we are living on now more green and beautiful.

In the end, I think we can have more collaboration with campus events to promote the ideas of sustainability as well as work with school/private/non-profit sectors to cooperate towards environmentally friendly actions.

Min Wu

Smart Grid at UIC

I have learned many things through my Smart Grid internship that relate to sustainability and help UIC be more sustainable. The main thing I have learned is how people can incorporate the new Smart grid technology into their lives. But another thing is that the act of recycling is not as simple as I thought.

There are several different plans people can use to incorporate Smart Grid technology into their electricity use. All of these plans are designed to reduce the amount people use typically at peak hours when most people are at home using electricity. An interesting fact about Smart grid I learned is that this new technology will be able to identify the location of downed power lines and so power outages will be drastically reduced in their duration. Smart Grid, due to it’s digital monitoring, is a more exact way to measure one’s electricity usage. Now customers do not have to rely on someone reading your power dial, which can sometimes lead to inaccuracies in how much money one owes.SG and recycling

Also I have learned that some of the items I have recycled are not actually recyclable and some items that I have thrown away I can actually recycle. Some candy wrappers have aluminum lining that you can tear apart form the rest of the wrapper, which can then be recycled. I have recycled plastic tableware in the past but I have learned that I cannot recycle that item now.

Sam Strader

Smart Grid at UIC

I used to think I knew a lot about the environment and sustainably but I realized that there is a lot of information I didn’t know and there is still so much more to learn. One of my favorite topics to learn about was how our daily habits can have such a strong impact on the environment. By changing habits, or even just changing the time of day which you do the habit, can lead to a more sustainable planet. For example, ComEd has different programs that allow you to track your energy usage. One of the programs allows you to save money by informing you of your “peak usage time” or the time of day you use the most energy and if you choose to do your high-energy tasks like laundry at a different “off peak” time it will save you money. Along with learning about the different ways habits are tied to sustainability I really enjoy being able to relay the information I am learning to my peers. A common theme among the many people I talk to about sustainability think being sustainable is a good idea but don’t feel that they can play a role in the grand scheme of things. However, this could not be farther from the truth after asking a few deeper questions I discovered that the same people who thought they couldn’t help already participate in sustainable practices like riding their bike instead of driving or shopping local.

Mandy Carlson

Smart Grid at the ICA

My internship project is based in the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) where I am working with team members to help promote a more sustainable environment within the building and neighborhood. Although the topic of sustainability may seem to be an unknown concept to some, I have found through my personal research and seminar lectures that the topic of sustainability is a way of life. Although individuals may not see it at first, little steps in everyday lives can make a big change for the future and help preserve what we Zahra Ahsanhold most dear for ourselves and future generations.

In order to show this point of view, I have found through my internship that it is very important to try and learn more about target population to be the most helpful. Sustainability and Smart Grid education are becoming very prevalent topics in today’s society and it is important to deliver knowledge to different parts of society in a manner that is most meaningful to them. Although I am still in the planning stages of future events, I have found the initial stages to be both crucial and fun. I have found myself trying to place myself in another’s shoes to try and see how materials can potentially be best presented. I look forward to learn more about Smart Grid technology and sustainability during my internship and develop ways to promote awareness and education about these topics.

Zahra Ahsan

Smart Grid at UIC

The sustainability internship that I am part of is the smart grid internship which will have me working here at UIC with the Office of Sustainability. Even thought my internship technically hasn’t started that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a great deal. I have learned on a wide scale about things as little as material that can and can’t be recycled to as huge as the global impact pollution has on climate change. I now know a better understanding of how the exchange of resources, energy, and user consumption can and has led to many negative impacts on our world. With that knowledge I may better apply myself to prevent myself from wasting valuable resources and energy by using only what I need, not what I want. By recycling the materials I use and use power at non-peak times of the day. The smart gird internship will task me with informing individuals and communities about the smart grid system and raising awareness to sustainable practices like energy efficiency. With my background in computer science I hope to apply that in my internship in a way to possibly help promote or share knowledge of energy efficiency possibly through a mobile app or similar internet applications. Maybe, once I help people become more informed and passionate enough about energy and resource efficiency then maybe we can undo the damage we have caused and make this world a better place than when we found it.

Lee Zimmerman

Smart Grid at UIC

Sustainability is how a system remains diverse and productive. Sustainability is often associated with being conscious to the environment. We all know that using a refillable water bottle and riding your bike to school is a sustainable action, but the term can relate to an infinite amount of actions that not only benefit the environment, but society too. Learning a second language is something I learned that can be considered a sustainable action. You are now able to relate and communicate to more people than before which is beneficial to you and others.

To participate in sustainable actions is only half the effort, though. Knowing why you are doing something is just as important. Educating yourself on how your efforts are helpful is essential because you are making yourself more aware and then you can carry on that knowledge to others.

The Smart Grid internship is much more than just informing people about a new, more efficient system. Our goal is to educate a wide variety of demographics including age, race, occupation, and residency on energy efficiency and sustainability. We are finding ways to make smart grid relatable to a professor that drives to school from his apartment in the city or a student that takes the train from her house in the suburbs. We are showing the UIC community what they have at stake in this transition and how they can benefit as much as possible in many ways for themselves and society.

Gianna Carrozza

Smart Grid at the Center for New Horizons

CNHAs a smart grid intern at the Center for New Horizons (CNH), my role is to incorporate the CNH holistic mission and better the Bronzeville community in a sustainable manner. The CNH mission “is to develop the capacities of families to become self-reliant, to improve the quality of their lives, and to participate in rebuilding the community.” The central sustainability issue behind my internship at CNH is helping the Bronzeville community develop a strong background in sustainable habits and technologies so that they can take one step further in living a more sustainable life. Some of the drivers that have been addressed are house owners, store owners, and CNH staff and interns. The impacts that these drivers make are establishing a strong network between community members and businesses, as well as educating the community in sustainability and technology such as Smart Grid. The most interesting part of my internship is bringing a dispersed location back together and creating more of a community. For example, since there aren’t many healthy grocery stores nearby residential areas, CNH took matters in their own hands and helped replenished a Bronzeville corner store into a convenience store. Instead of the common snacks and liquor, this store has locally grown fruits and vegetables. This is just one of the projects that CNH has completed in order to encourage sustainable living.

Ghazal Baniasad

The Energy Initiative

If you were to ask me a year ago what sustainability is, I would have no idea what it actually entailed. I always had this vision of hippies and tree huggers. Granted it’s not a bad thing, and I do want to save the planet, but the extreme lifestyle just didn’t suit me. I’m someone who’s always all over the place with different ongoing-projects: professional and personal. If there’s one thing I am passionate about, it’s to learn new things from various perspectives. I like to view things on with a holistic and interdisciplinary approach.

The energy initiative

My internship with the Energy Initiative housed all of my interests and still had that approach. I got to research and learn the intersectionality of science and sustainability. Sustainability is about saving materials and resources for future generations. It promotes job growth, saves the planet, and so much more with its long term benefits. With my mini project, I get to research student awareness behind the UIC sustainability practices in SEL classroom labs. I also get to blog and explore the effects of social media and awareness for the Energy Initiative along with marketing for SISE/related programs. All these are different areas of work yet they combine into a singular scope. That’s what I love about my internship and it has exposed me to different branches of sustainability.

 Alysha Mancha