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Alumni Letters

Letters from our readers.
November 14, 2006

Energetic Research
Your September/October 2006 issue continued to bring much-needed attention to emerging energy technologies and to MIT’s Energy Initiative. It was particularly satisfying, however, to read your article about the MIT Energy Club, which in two short years has developed into a vital and dynamic catalyst for learning and change at MIT. Would Susan Hockfield have made her historic statements had it not been for the groundswell of activity initiated by that group of students? Would the Energy Initiative have garnered so much interest and support? Most important, would I have found my current job?

In the article, the club’s president emeritus David Danielson remarks that he “hopes to extend its reach to alumni.” This is already happening! Last fall, after 12 years in investment banking, I decided to make a switch into the energy sector. The club enabled me to learn about policy issues and new energy technologies, network with students, faculty, and graduates, and find my current position at EnerNOC.

I started with the club by assisting with the lecture series, which, aside from being a huge amount of fun, gave me an excuse to approach energy executives whom I found compelling. Suddenly, I had a reason for cold-calling CEOs and talking to speakers at the end of lectures. Leading the building efficiency panel at the club’s first annual MIT Energy Conference was an invaluable opportunity to do more of the same.

For alums looking to make a shift into the energy sector, the MIT Energy Club is a great place to start. Current members, I urge you to maintain a connection with the club after graduation through the lecture series and discussion series, the annual energy conference, and the club’s website.
Tom Atkinson, SM ‘94
Cambridge, MA

I applaud your efforts to bring energy issues into the spotlight with “Energetic Research” and “Plugged In” in the September/October issue. The challenges surrounding the use of energy are difficult, but for several reasons, I’m optimistic that they can and will be controlled.

First, that leaders at MIT have sensed the urgency of the situation and taken action is promising in itself. Second, as an energy consultant, I can attest to a buzz in the industrial world around energy problems. Some organizations are doing more than others, but all are taking an interest in mitigating supply-and-demand imbalances, geopolitical hazards, and climate change and other environmental risks. Third, I’m encouraged by the vision, action, and accomplishments of the MIT Energy Club. The events they organize bring thought leaders together, from within and beyond the halls of MIT, and really have the potential to bring material change to the energy world.
Salem Esber, SM ‘06
Denver, CO

Caltech Cannon Update
MIT and Caltech hackers have gone intercampus, coast-to-coast, in recent years, as reported in the September/October 2006 issue (“The Great Cannon Hack”). As retribution for a Caltech hack, MIT hackers had a large cannon transported from the Caltech campus to the MIT campus. (Caltech had acquired the cannon as a gift when a local military academy morphed into a general college-prep school.) Caltech students, of course, transported it back to Pasadena. But as an MIT alumnus, a Pasadena resident, and a Caltech associate, I was surprised to find that instead of returning to its place in front of Fleming residence hall, on the Olive Walk between the faculty club and the main library, the cannon reappeared chained to a large sycamore tree in front of the nearby residence that serves as the hall for undergraduate registration (Click here for photos). I was also surprised to find on closer examination that the chain is much heavier than any I ever purchased for use with my D-8 Caterpillar bulldozer on my central-coast ranch!
Henry Lee ‘47
South El Monte, CA

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