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Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Winter Forum 2019: Mobilizing Technology and Business Models to Close the Energy Gap

As a member of Winter Forum 2019: Mobilizing Technology and Business Models to Close the Energy Gap, I participated in deep interdisciplinary discussion about energy access and energy infrastructure, and the impact that they have on the development of the world’s poorest regions. Through close interaction with faculty and students from the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Fuqua School of Business, and the Trinity School of Arts and Sciences, I was able to go deeper into building my understanding and sharing my experiences in the field. Together, my team created an energy infrastructure growth plan for the rapid urbanization of Wodala, a fictional African nation with energy poverty. The Winter Forum was intense, rewarding, and extremely valuable in its diversity of thought.

This was related to my Grand Challenge by focusing on interdisciplinary ideation and conversation around the topic of energy infrastructure in a rapidly urbanizing world, and allowed me to bring together and share many of my own experiences in the field, as well as hear from other students about theirs.

Start Date: January 6th, 2019

End Date: January 8th, 2019

Supervisor: Jonathan Phillips and Tim Profeta, Duke Energy Access Project

Sustainable Energy Principles and Processes & IAML – University of Edinburgh

For the fall semester of 2018, I studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh, where I took two courses that added an interdisciplinary dimension to my Mechanical Engineering education and related to my GCS focus.

The first course was Sustainable Energy: Principles and Processes, which was a science research course I took outside of the ME department, and was focused on understanding sustainable energy and gaining economic, political, and some technical context on the field. In this class, I interacted with students from over 40 different countries, and created research posters understanding Scotland’s energy scene, Indonesia’s energy scene, Ethiopia’s energy scene, and tidal stream energy technology for my assignments. The course also discussed the Carbon Life Cycle process, the transitions that our world is facing as it increases in population and urbanization, and all of the different types of research and data analysis going on in the field. I learned to have a critical eye when reading research papers, and understanding when sustainable transitions are pure, and when they are skewed for the intended readers. This class gave me incredible global context on sustainable energy infrastructure, and was my favorite course in Edinburgh for sure.

The next course I took that gave me a different skillset relating to the field of energy infrastructure innovation was the Introductory Applied Machine Learning course I took in the Informatics School at Edinburgh. This course gave broad understanding and application of the fundamental algorithms and classifiers for machine learning, and was taught by Nigel Goddard, whose primary focus is in energy predictability and automation, which was what motivated me to take the course. During the course, one of my projects was to build a classifier that would take in household energy usage data and predict what type of device was being used at the time by members of the household. This would allow for more insights into how to increase efficiency by predicting demand, and was a really innovative way to approach energy infrastructure improvements.

Start Date: September 13, 2018

End Date: December 20, 2018

Instructor: Dr. Tom Bruce (Energy), Dr. Nigel Goddard (Informatics)

Total Hours: 90+

Image result for innovation and entrepreneurship duke

I am enrolled in the I&E Certificate Program, an interdisciplinary certificate program that involves a gateway course, a keystone course, an elective, and a capstone.

The course Social Innovation (cross-listed in I&E and Public Policy) was a key interdisciplinary experience related to my Grand Challenge, as energy infrastructure innovation largely is a result of small-scale social enterprise creation in the developing world. I took this course because I had interacted with alumni who worked in the sustainable development space, and all of them spoke about the value of understanding empathy, human-centered design, business fundamentals, and interdisciplinary teamwork. In this class, I took part in many team projects to design ventures with social impact at their forefront. I built a softer skill set of ethnography, empathy, and human-centered design through my group projects, and even worked to design an impact fellowship for Duke students (the DIMension Program–yet to be realized).

This class allowed me to directly connect myself to the network of social entrepreneurs, and helped me discover Ashoka, which led me to my work in Indonesia on energy infrastructure innovation in developing Indonesia. I am thankful for the social learning that I took away with me from Matt Nash’s wonderful class, and I know it helped fuel my passion as a Grand Challenge Scholar trying to take on a key global issue.

Start Date: January 2018

End Date: May 2018

Instructor: Matt Nash (I&E and Fuqua)

Total Hours: 70+

Other Key I&E Courses taken: Engineering Innovation, Strategies for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (At Fuqua), and Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise (in Silicon Valley, cross-listed as Economics)

Other interdisciplinary courses/experiences: Science and Faith in the Age of Unreason (Spring Breakthrough 2018), Appearance and Reality (Philosophy department), Data Structures & Algorithms (CS department), DukeEngage Academy, Winter Forum 2018 + 2017, Duke Energy Week