Revival of the UNH Energy Club

Rebuilding a multidisciplinary community dedicated to cultivating discussions and making an impact on solving key energy issues

by Samuel Mercer ’23 | Chemical Engineering

In 2008, the UNH Energy Club was founded to build a community of students who were interested in the extraction, production, transportation, storage, or consumption of energy. It was open to students of all disciplines, as issues in energy sectors require a combination of economic, environmental, policy, entrepreneurial, and engineering expertise. By 2012, the organization no longer existed. Ten years later, my team is helping restore the original vision that the club set to accomplish, establishing ourselves as an impactful group at UNH that can last for years to come.

Sam headshot

When charting my career plans and goals, I was determined to find an industry where I could make advances in science that would change the world for the better. This led me to pursue a research career in nanomaterials for energy applications. Learning about energy has broadened my perspectives and understanding of sustainability to consider the social, economic, and political implications that advances in technology may have. Policymakers, investors, educators, analysts, economists, urban planners, business owners, and more must work together with scientists and engineers to improve energy systems at all levels. The effects of energy generation and consumption propagates across the global economy and environment. Learning about how fossil fuels contrast to renewable energy sources and the need for clean energy is requisite for making informed decisions when addressing the climate and the energy crisis. However, the shift towards sustainable energy systems is complicated. As such, I sought to find other students sharing my interests and be a part of a team that would cultivate discussions and actions to take incremental steps in solving these complex energy issues from all perspectives.

Building a network; making measurable impact at UNH

The revival of the UNH Energy Club has been seven months in the making. My team, Matt Libby, Henry Lavoie, Jared Casey, Bailey Prasad, Dante Aquino, Eli Duggan, and I have worked together unremittingly to learn about energy over the summer on an idea called Apropos Energy, which focuses on making the complexities of the energy industry accessible, digestible, and organized. The idea was pitched at the 2021 NH Social Venture and Innovation Challenge, advised by Ian Grant at the UNH Peter T. Paul Entrepreneurship Center, but we did not plan to stop there. Our interests in energy have naturally brought us to wanting to spark conversations about energy on-campus at UNH.

In reviving the club, we have prioritized activities that will give club members a well-rounded outlook on the energy industry, making them well-informed for their future careers and for building a sustainable and equitable future. Our club will work with the UNH Energy Task Force at the Sustainability Institute and members will be able to work first-hand on community projects to understand and improve how energy is used at the university. Throughout the year, our organization will organize events to start conversations about energy with students and professionals. These include workshops, touring energy facilities (such as the co-generation plant), networking sessions, guest speaker panels, socials, topic discussions, and more. Two of our signature events include a regional Energy Conference and a Campus Energy Week, which will be planned throughout the academic year. These activities will allow members to hone valuable multidisciplinary skills that they might not have picked up in the classroom or in the workplace, all the while meeting new people and making a measurable impact on-campus.

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Photo credit: Brooks Payette