Grad students stage an energy symposium to change the world Published: October 3, 2011 By: Dick Cortén Are you interested in the latest energy-and-resources breakthroughs in science, engineering, policy, economics, and more? Then you might want to mark your calendar for what’s happening at Berkeley on the 20th and 21st of October. Arun Majumdar It’s the BERC 2011 Energy Symposium, the largest student-run energy conference on the West Coast. BERC — the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collective — is a multidisciplinary network of nearly 3,000 UC students, alumni, faculty, industry professionals, and advisers, all of whom seek to turn advanced research into world-changing solutions through tackling energy and environmental challenges. Its leadership team is made up of more than two dozen grad students in the sciences, business, public policy, law, and public health. The event is split into two parts, an innovation expo all day Thursday the 20th, with 80-plus posters from the Berkeley campus, LBNL, and beyond (including Berkeley startups and cleantech organizations), then a symposium on energy throughout Friday the 21st, with keynotes, panel discussions, and other ways to interact. The keynote speakers are Arun Majumdar and Ann Marie Sastry. Ann Marie Sastry Majumdar is the first director of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which is the country’s only agency devoted to transformational energy research and development. A professor in two engineering departments at Berkeley, he was an associate director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before leaving to join the Department of Energy. Majumdar earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering here in 1989. (For those keeping track of labels, his ARPA-E position has been dubbed America’s “Green Czar.”) Sastry is a University of Michigan professor of mechanical, biomedical, and materials science and engineering. She is also the CEO and co-founder of Sakti3, a tech-transfer-based lithium-ion solid-state battery company that aims to help enable electric drivetrain vehicles that are capable of getting over 100 miles per gallon. More information on the event is available from the BERC website. Interesting background: in this DOE video, Majumdar describes learning how to start a federal agency.