New club takes politics out of energy



by Luke Glaser

While UK’s goal to be a top-20 university revolves around the bigger aspects of college like enrollment, faculty and research, but it also involves the smaller things, down to the clubs that students join. Bree McCarney realized this when she brought the Energy Club to UK.

The UK Center for Applied Energy Research hired McCarney as an energy club coordinator when it recieved a grant from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to help post-secondary schools throughout the state start energy clubs.

“It was a great idea and a good grant,” McCarney said. “All of the top-20 universities have energy clubs.”

McCarney recruited student interns working at CAER to help her start an energy club at UK. One of those students was CAER intern Evan Schroader, a mechanical engineering junior, who is president of the Energy Club.

“I was definitely very interested,” Shroader said. He said that “there are a bunch of clubs on campus that are very specific,” but that the Energy Club will take a much broader perspective on energy issues and will “cover all facets of energy.”

McCarney said the club, which is modeled after the energy club at MIT, is the only one of it’s kind in the state so far. She said the fact that UK’s Energy Club will be scientificaly fact-based rather than activism oriented sets it apart from other student groups related to energy.

“We are pretty rhetoric free,” McCarney said.

“We aren’t opinionated,” Shroader said. “I think we will be received with open arms, because we’re not saying ‘go all green’ or ‘go all coal.’”

Members feel pleased with the club’s reception so far. Shroader said 13 students came to the club’s first organizational meeting despite heavy snow, a locked building and a lost pizza man.

The Energy Club has service projects, site visits and a disscussion series planned for its first semester. The first speaker  in the discussion series will be John Groppo, a senior engineer and associate program manager who works for CAER.

“He is kind of a consultant for our group and always has very effective and appropriate input for whatever we are doing,” Schroader said.

According to club flyers, Groppo will lead a discussion entitled, “U.S. Energy Situation: Where we are and where we’re heading.”

The club will meet every other Thursday, with topics ranging from nuclear energy, hydro, the grid and coal,  Schroader said.

In an attempt to be cross-departmental, the energy club is seeking to work in conjunction with the Solar Car Team, Sustainability Council, Solar Decathlon, the Design School and the Gatton School of Business. The energy club is also working with a green marketing class in Gatton.

The club is also working with a plethora of groups in order to recruit a diverse membership.

“I don’t have a specific student in mind,” McCarney said. “We all have a certain language we are learning to speak depending on our departments and majors. That’s great, but to be really successful, you have to learn to speak a different language and use a different vocabulary.”

The energy club will not just consist of speech and academia. It is planning visits to a coal mine, the Cooperstown Plant and a trip to Maker’s Mark Distillery to view energy-conserving technology.

These site visits are planned once a month and incorporate the various roles that energy plays in our lives. For Schroader, the club’s timing could not be more perfect.

“I think our energy issues are quite evident,” Shroader said. “The oil crisis is quite evident, but there are many other issues. We need to understand what we use and how we can use less.”

Hoping for a good turnout, McCarney is excited about the energy club’s potential.

“The sky is the limit as far as what we can do.”

The Energy Club’s spring discussion series begins Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Student Center in room 231. Free Sbarro pizza will be served.