Two School of Public Policy and CGS students, PhD candidate Minji Jeong and second year MPP student Luting Jin, recently attended the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. This annual event from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy brings together experts from public, private, and academic fields to explore the newest innovations in energy technology. Their participation in the ARPA-E summit was organized and sponsored by Womanium, a nonprofit designed to support women in STEM and STEM-related fields, as well as by CGS.

ARPA-E is an innovative organization within DOE, modeled after the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that brought us the internet and other breakthroughs, designed to support and bring to market potentially transformational energy technologies. Speakers at this year’s summit included high level speakers and featured a large showcase room where participants could engage with experts on emerging technologies in transportation, energy efficiency, electrical generation. University of Maryland Physics Professor Ellen Williams was director of ARPA-E from 2014-2017.

Selection for the student program was competitive and only 100 graduate students attend each year. Both Jeong and Jin have been pursuing their interest in energy technology research and policy analysis through their studies at the School of Public Policy and research activities with the Center for Global Sustainability.

Jeong is currently a research assistant with CGS and will soon defend her doctoral dissertation, “National Renewable Energy Policy in a Global World.” While at UMD, she worked at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between the University of Maryland and the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She highlighted the value of the ARPA-E summit as an opportunity to learn about breakthrough energy technologies. “It was inspiring to talk to people who have innovative ideas and try to make changes for a sustainable future,” she said. “As a policy student studying energy technology, this event helped me to broaden my perspective on energy technologies.”

Jin is currently a research assistant at JGCRI. She said the experience brought her back to her work on science and technology, and reflected on the pilot projects being run to help new energy sources overcome technical and economic barriers. “As Dr. John Holdren mentioned in his recent lecture at the School of Public Policy, while governments provide funding for fundamental research, the private sector usually brings innovative ideas to reality,” she said, adding, “I’m glad to see so many scientists and engineers participating in the policy-making process, including my professors.”