By Molly A. Seltzer
On June 3 the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment recognized its graduating seniors who earned certificates in the Program in Sustainable Energy and the Program in Technology and Society: Energy Track at its Class Day Celebration.
The eleven students completed the rigorous requirements of the certificate programs, taking classes in technology, climate change, geoscience, policy, energy economics, and decision making, among others. Many students also completed independent research projects during their undergraduate programs.
The annual celebration was introduced by Andlinger Center director Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, the Theodora D. ‘78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering, and led by Z. Jason Ren, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. Ren, who is acting director for education at the Andlinger Center, spoke to the depth and breadth of the senior theses, and stamina required to graduate from the programs. The two undergraduate certificate programs, geared toward engineers and non-engineers, is one key way the Andlinger Center “trains the next generation of leaders in a broad context,” a core pillar of the Center’s mission.
The students presented their senior theses earlier in May to a faculty committee. Topics ranged from analyses of configurations in plasma physics, to wind turbine designs, to new technologies to track ozone precursors in the air.
Elke Weber, the center’s associate director for education, presented the second annual Andlinger Center Senior Thesis Prize in Energy and the Environment to Taylor Bacon, a senior graduating with a degree in chemical and biological engineering. Bacon was recognized for her thesis, “Bio-jet Fuel Production via Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis: Process Simulation, Economics, and Scale-up Analysis,” which evaluates the carbon and energy lifecycle of a process used to create bio-based jet fuel.
Weber, who is also a Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment and professor of psychology and public affairs, said the thesis exemplifies outstanding research and a strong commitment to understanding and solving the world’s energy and environmental problems. The modeling work and simulations Bacon executed led to a holistic analysis of a complex chemical design process, which included economic analyses and results that could inform energy policy.
Bacon said she looks forward to sharing the final thesis with companies she contacted during her research process, which are working on jet fuel alternatives. Bacon was selected to be a U.S. Clean Air Fellow at Environmental Defense Fund through Princeton’s High Meadows Fellowship, and will begin the role in September in Washington, D.C.
Ren said that the work of all the seniors has “enriched not only the students themselves, but the entire Princeton community.”
He said some students will pursue graduate degrees in chemical engineering, climate science, and sustainable energy. Others will apply what they learned in their coursework to fellowships in carbon pricing analytics and clean air, and in consulting jobs.
“All of you have bright futures ahead,” said Ren.
Ren closed the day by congratulating the family and friends of the graduates and thanking them for their support of the students, who have now successfully earned certificates from the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and are ready make their mark on the world.