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When President Obama held a town hall-style meeting at Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California last week, one of his major focuses was clean energy innovation. Developing new technologies clearly remains a key part of the President’s plan to reduce America’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Obama also alluded to his goal of having a million electric vehicles on the road, saying that domestic battery innovation was crucial to making electric cars more affordable. The student teams in the EcoCAR competition are making these clean energy technologies of the future possible, and the President mentioned how integral education will be in creating opportunities for scientific breakthroughs.

To read more and watch video of President Obama’s town hall meeting at Facebook, check out the DOE blog post about the event!

Following President Barack Obama’s vow to prioritize energy innovation and infrastructure in yesterday’s State of the Union address, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu held an online town hall meeting during which he further explained the administration’s stance on clean energy.

“Today we are once again seeing the benefits for the American people that come with federal investments in science and innovation,” Secretary Chu said. “With this new agreement, battery technologies developed at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are making their way into the market. By supporting American innovation, commercialization and manufacturing, this partnership is helping to boost U.S. competitiveness and create the jobs of the future.”

Secretary Chu added that continuing business as usual will have a devastating effect on the entire world and echoed President Obama’s emphasis on clean energy efforts. With the President proposing to spend more than $8 billion on the field, Chu said that the nation’s overall prosperity depends on the clean energy race.  So, what does this mean for you and for EcoCAR?

For one thing, it means more jobs. One of the administration’s goals is to have 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the road by 2015 and these vehicles aren’t going to design, engineer and manufacture themselves! To turn this ambitious goal into a reality, the auto industry will be looking to the next generation of engineers, especially those with AVTC experience like EcoCAR alumni! Just imagine – within a matter of years, team members currently competing in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge could be steering the auto industry into an era of not only clean energy vehicles, but ones that are highly functional with broad consumer appeal.

More information about Secretary Chu’s statements can be found here or you can view the replay video embedded below.

Today’s town hall was the first in the year-long “Energy Matters” series in which DOE experts will address issues raised by the public. You can ask energy-related questions via email, Facebook and Twitter and have them answered live online. Stay tuned for the next one!

This summer, more than 25 interns are spreading awareness of alternatives fuels and clean energy throughout the nation. Clean Cities, an EcoCAR Gold Sponsor, launched the Clean Cities Summer Internship program to assist local coalitions in the planning and implementation of events, research of alternative fuel usage, database analysis, and social media and media relations tasks.

Marcy Rood Werpy, Principal Transportation Environmental Analyst at Argonne National Laboratory and a former manager of Clean Cities, believes coalitions need new and creative ways to reach fleet managers and general consumers about these important issues.

“With the nation focused on a clean energy revolution, Clean Cities is at a pinnacle with significant opportunities to accelerate the market towards electric drive technologies, biofuels, natural gas and propane vehicles,” she said. “Local coalitions need resources or people power to get projects started, find additional fleet customers, and educate consumers about new vehicle technologies. Interns provide smart, energetic resources to coalitions needing to move ahead quickly.”

Clean Cities looked to Argonne National Laboratory to help oversee and execute the summer internship program. Dana Bubonovich, former Outreach Coordinator for Penn State, was brought on board to help oversee internship responsibilities for all 25 coalitions and act as a liaison between Argonne, the interns, and the coalition coordinators.

“Argonne is here to help the coalitions succeed in spreading awareness of clean energy,” said Bubonovich. “The interns are very bright and have already helped the coalitions tremendously. The coalitions are really impressed with what the interns can achieve.”

Another EcoCAR student is interning at the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition (GLICCC) this summer.

EcoCAR team leader for the Embry-Riddle EcoEagles, Vincent Sabatini, accepted an internship with the GLICCC to assist in their mission of expanding the use of alternatives fuels, improving air quality, facilitating energy independence, and encouraging economic growth. The GLICC was officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy in October 1996, and is currently managing and funding CNG fleets and fueling stations through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Vince Sabatini talks to students about alternative fuels and clean energy

Vincent played a significant role in Embry-Riddle’s outreach activities throughout the last two years of EcoCAR. He was often the team’s spokesperson at offsite events and helped give tours of the lab for visitors. His dedication to his EcoCAR team and outreach activities impressed the coalition’s coordinator and landed him the internship with the GLICCC.

Vincent is currently working on updating the contact information for coalition stakeholders, public officials, media contacts, and fleet managers, as well as updating the coalition’s website. He is also developing a press packet for events such as station groundbreakings or grand openings, as well as the annual Advancing The Choice (ATC) Conference, which will be held on October 22, 2010.

“I really enjoy working with Clean Cities,” said Vincent. “It’s nice because I can take the outreach skills I learned at Embry-Riddle, mix it with my engineering background, and apply it to my internship. The internship really taught me to expand my horizons and I’ve become more well-rounded because of it.”

Many EcoCAR students live every day like it’s Earth Day, but on April 22, several teams held special events in recognition of Earth Day 2010. Read about the celebrations below for ideas on how to make Earth Day 2011 an even better event on your own campus.

Every year, Georgia Tech hosts an Earth Day event for more than 3,000 people and 70 exhibitors. This year, the theme was “Celebrate Our World” and featured eco-friendly giveaways, recycling opportunities, a clothing swap, office supply exchange, live music, and organic popcorn. The Georgia Tech EcoCAR team was on site and shared the team’s efforts to create a greener Earth.

Georgia Tech's EcoCAR display at the Earth Day event

Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Technologies (AVT) team celebrated Earth Day by joining forces with other organizations on campus to hand out eco-friendly freebies and participate in green trivia. The highlight of the day was a water bottle exchange – each student that recycled a plastic water bottle received a free reusable bottle. The response was overwhelming and the Penn State team donated the plastic bottles to an organization that was building an eco-house out of bottles on campus.

Penn State students participating in the water bottle exchange

Virginia Tech’s Hybrid Electric Team (HEVT) participated in Earth Week on campus, promoting alternative clean transportation like riding the bus, walking or biking to class. Students who don’t drive to campus received a free t-shirt and were entered into a raffle for a free bike.

The team’s extended-range electric EcoCAR was on display on campus, alongside an all electric vehicle, a hybrid and a biodiesel bus. Towards the end of the event HEVT even got to show off their vehicle running in all electric mode!

Virginia Tech's EcoCAR on display during Earth Week

The Missouri S&T EcoCAR team talked to more than 1,000 local students about the importance of renewable energy, clean energy, and energy conservation on Earth Day. The theme of the school’s annual celebration was, “Be Green! Keep the Planet Clean.”

Take a look at the Missouri S&T Earth Day festivities in the video below!

We’d love to hear how YOU celebrated Earth Day this year!

The Missouri S&T EcoCAR team discussed its commitment to educating people about green energy and the importance of conservation and efficiency during Legislative Day at Missouri’s State Capitol earlier this month. The event included research groups from the University of Missouri’s four campuses: Mizzou, UM-Kansas City, UM-Saint Louis, and Missouri S&T. 

MS&T electrical engineering student, David Lecko, talking to attendees about the EcoCAR program

During the day, the team spoke with legislators, members of the community, student lobbyists, the student leadership of Missouri 4-H, and engineering students and alumni from universities throughout Missouri.  It was a successful event for the MS&T team because many attendees expressed an interest in sustainable and clean energy.

MS&T team member, Sundeep Bande, posing with Mizzou alumni at Legislative Day

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