On Wednesday, March 8, Fairmont State University Professor of Chemistry Dr. Erica Harvey and Mechanical Engineering student Eliza Keener participated in a forum hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House in Washington D.C. The forum focused on solutions for campus and community climate change.
“It was an eye-opening, humbling and tremendously energizing event,” said Harvey. “We got to meet and learn from knowledgeable, engaged attendees at universities that are nearly net-zero carbon emissions already or planning to be there by 2030, and see the multitude of community-specific paths being taken towards sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change.”
In addition to Keener and Dr. Harvey, the forum included U.S. Government officials and climate, sustainability, and resilience leaders and educators from colleges and universities nationwide. The series of keynote speakers and panel discussions explored innovative ideas and actions that can advance climate change efforts on college campuses while benefitting the surrounding communities and beyond.
“We connected with people across the country who are implementing rapidly developing technologies such as geothermal and green hydrogen, as well as large solar installations and other renewable technologies,” said Harvey. “It was incredible to see the big picture potential of sharing this kind of learning across the nation, to help accelerate the adoption and local adaptation of effective practices. I appreciated the focus on partnering with front-line communities, such as the coal-impacted communities of West Virginia, to ensure that the sustainability and resilience investments from the infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will benefit everyone.”
During the forum, Dr. Harvey shared a 90-second “lighting talk” focusing on work done by 6 Fairmont State students in her Honors 3350 course, Abby Adkins, Jacob Bonner, Trace Freed, Trey Jones, Eliza Keener and Dylan Kolb. The “lighting talk” highlighted a semester research project done by the students, which focuses on expanding the use of solar energy on campus and how that would benefit Fairmont State University.
“Getting the opportunity to attend this conference with Dr. Harvey was incredible. There were so many amazing people there to share their insight and ideas on not only campus sustainability, but the world’s sustainability,” said Keener. “Going into this knowing very little, we were greatly surprised by what other campuses are doing. There are several campuses that are fully geothermal or solar. They are taking the initiative to make their campus and the environment a better place. I think that this is very important, and we should start putting in the same effort that others are putting forth.”
Keener served as a moderator and recorder for the breakout sessions during the forum. She was the only first-year undergraduate student at the event.
“It was an amazing experience that I'll always carry with me. I met so many wonderful people that I made connections with and networked with,” said Keener.
To learn more about the College of Science and Technology and other notable events such as this, visit www.fairmontstate.edu/collegeofscitech.