Six key national energy and environmental policy leaders from government and business--including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and James R. Schlesinger--will speak at Virginia Tech this spring as part of a broader university initiative to foster collective participation from faculty, staff, students, and the community, in addressing the environmental challenges of the region, nation, and world.

On Monday, Feb. 19, James R. Maughan, GE Energy general manager for controls and power electronics, will speak at 5 p.m. at Squires Student Center, Haymarket Theater. Maughan’s talk will focus on the promise and perils of some of these developments, underway at GE Energy and elsewhere.

The following Monday, Feb. 26, three speakers will be on campus for the Virginia Tech Deans' Forum on the Environment. Paul Gilman, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for research and development, will speak at 9:45 a.m. in the Alumni Assembly Hall at the Inn at Virginia Tech. David Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, will speak at 1:10 p.m. in the Alumni Assembly Hall. The keynote speaker, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, and president of Waterkeeper Alliance, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Burruss Hall Auditorium.

On Wednesday, March 21, at 6 p.m. James R. Schlesinger will speak at the Lyric Theater in downtown Blacksburg. Schlesinger was the first U.S. Secretary of Energy and launched the Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Effects and Assessment Program. He is now co-chairman of the Defense Science Board study of the Department of Defense energy strategy.

Hans B. (Teddy) Püttgen, director of the Energy Center at Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, will speak on Friday, April 13, at 2:30 p.m. in 3100 Torgersen Hall.

Maughan joined GE in 1989 at the Corporate Research Center in Schenectady, N.Y., working in the area of low emissions combustion research, aircraft engines combustion, and gas appliances. In 1997, he joined GE Energy to lead the introduction of new combustion systems into GE turbines, and held subsequent leadership positions in gas turbine, steam turbine, and energy services new product fevelopment. Maughan returned to the research center in 2002 as the global manager of research related to the growing GE Energy business before moving back to GE Energy in 2004 for his current assignment in Salem, Va., where he leads a Center of Excellence in GE Energy for Controls and Power Electronics, and provides technology, software, and hardware needed for the reliable and efficient operation of GE’s turbines, generators, and compressors, as well as power conversion equipment for these and the wind, photovoltaic, and oil and gas markets.

“Just as coal drove the industrial revolution and oil the transportation revolution, new energy technology will fuel the coming environmental revolution,” Maughan said. “Increasing demands for higher efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and greater fuel diversity are being answered with improved technology. Options range from improving current technologies, such as steam-cooled gas turbines, coal gasification with CO2 sequestration, liquefied natural gas plants, and wind turbines, to advancing newer possible solutions, such as solid oxide fuel cell hybrids, organic photovoltaics, hot dry rock energy, superconducting electrical systems, and a broad hydrogen economy. While these challenges will engage engineers for generations to come, technology will, without a doubt, lead to the answer to today’s pressing need for ample clean energy.”

Gilman, who is the founding director of the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies (ORCAS), has 13 years of experience working on the staff of the U.S. Senate, beginning as a Congressional Science Fellow sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the office of Senator Pete V. Domenici. ORCAS is a new consortium of research universities, government, industry, and non-governmental organizations focused on critical issues with strong science and technology content. Before his 2001 nomination to EPA, he was director of policy planning for Celera Genomics; the executive director of the life sciences and agriculture divisions of the National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering; the associate director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science; and executive assistant to the Secretary of Energy.

Paylor was deputy secretary of natural resources for Governor Mark Warner, overseeing all the natural resource agencies of the commonwealth. Paylor’s career began in 1973 with the State Water Control Board and continued with DEQ. He began as a field biologist and held positions as an aquatic ecologist, water resources manager, director of petroleum programs, and director of operations. Paylor is secretary/treasurer of the Environmental Council of the States.

Püttgen is the immediate past president of the IEEE Power Engineering Society. Before arriving at the Energy Center at Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne, he was Georgia Power Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech, where he launched the National Electric Energy Test, Research, and Application Center.

The speaker series is sponsored by the Deans’ Task Force on the Environment and the Deans’ Task Force on Energy Security and Sustainability.


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