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Hockfield Outlines MIT Energy Goals, Implements May Report

By Angeline Wang

After a year of research and gathering input, President Susan Hockfield announced the establishment of the Institute-wide MIT Energy Initiative in a message to the MIT community on Wednesday. The end result of the Initiative will be the establishment of “a new interdepartmental laboratory or center that will involve researchers from all five Schools,” Hockfield’s message states.

“As we work toward the establishment of this new entity,” Hockfield’s message continues. “MITEI will function as a ‘virtual center,’ reaching across the Institute to enhance and coordinate existing energy activities in research, education, and operations.”

According to Professor Ernest J. Moniz, director of MITEI, the next step will be to set the membership of the new Energy Council and set up the education and management task forces. Moniz said that he hopes these tasks will be completed before the end of November, but that they would certainly be done this term.

The Energy Education Task Force will be in charge of coordinating MIT educational initiatives, possibly beginning with the creation of an energy minor for undergraduates. The Energy Management Task Force will improve campus energy efficiency.

Moniz and MITEI associate director Professor Robert C. Armstrong co-chaired the Energy Research Council last year. The ERC was tasked to write a report with recommendations for how MIT should address the global energy challenge. The goals of the Initiative Hockfield unveiled on Wednesday follow the recommendations of the 57-page report — which focused on Institute research, education, and campus energy management — released by the ERC in May. The ERC was disbanded after the report’s release.

Hockfield, along with Provost L. Rafael Reif, gathered reactions to the ERC report over the summer and “discussed its recommendations with experts and stakeholders both inside and outside MIT,” her statement said.

Moniz said that the new Council would probably have fewer members than the 16-member ERC, but that it would definitely have representation from each of the five MIT Schools.

Moniz also said that the Council will begin to hire faculty this term.

In the fall of 2005, the ERC solicited input from faculty and students, asking for white papers detailing possible research directions the Initiative could take. A campus-wide survey was conducted by the MIT Energy Club, and MIT received input from industry in a December workshop.

This culminated in a widely publicized Energy Forum in May 2006 where the ERC unveiled its report on how MIT should proceed to address the energy challenge.

The release of the report, which was originally scheduled to be completed in Feb. 2006, marked the end of the information-gathering phase of the Energy Initiative, Hockfield’s first major action as MIT president.

In Jan. 2006, the ERC also helped set up the EnergyClasses Web site ( to highlight graduate and undergraduate classes with a significant focus on energy.