Engineering science student to participate in clean energy retreat

While many people can't think far enough ahead to plan tonight's dinner, Adebayo Adejare, a sophomore in engineering science and mechanics at Penn State's College of Engineering, is planning a better future for his grandchildren.

The Albrightsville, Pa., native's efforts in sustainability helped secure him a spot as one of 20 students selected from across the country as one of the nation's top rising young leaders in the clean energy sector who will participate in Focus the Nation's Recharge! Retreat Aug. 21-26 on Oregon's Mt. Hood.

To apply, candidates write an essay explaining their passion, dedication and unique contributions to increasing clean energy in America. Focus the Nation, a national nonprofit that supports rising leaders in launching careers that accelerate the transition to clean energy, then selects and funds the leaders -- five each in the categories of Technician, Innovator, Politico, and Storyteller -- to attend the retreat. Adejare will join the other four Innovators, represented by students drawn to careers as engineers, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs who discover and demonstrate the power of clean energy solutions.

He remembers the phone call he received earlier this month, letting him know he would be heading to Oregon. "I was just outside my hometown when I got the call. I applied in May, but I wasn't really sure I had a chance, since my only credential was being an Eco-Rep on campus last year. I probably didn't sound too excited, but I was."

The retreat, designed to encourage today's young energy leaders to collaborate on clean ideas and meet today's crop of community energy ambassadors, includes activities such as:  hiking Elliot Glacier, which has experienced 60 percent snowpack loss since 1982; touring the Boardman Coal Plant, scheduled to close by 2020; and visiting Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, which powers 125,000 homes in Oregon. Adejare says he most looks forward to hiking Elliot Glacier because he's never seen one before.

As an Eco-Rep in East Halls last year, Adejare promoted sustainable behavior by showing fellow students environmentally friendlier ways of doing everyday things. He explained, "For instance, we ask students to dine in instead of dining out, which reduces packaging."

Adejare ties his passion for sustainability to his choice of major, "Engineering science and mechanics provides a well-rounded education, since students get a little bit of experience in all the different sciences. This helps a great deal because my focus is unique -- I want to work with solar panel technology, increase solar panel efficiency, and make the panels more mainstream with better designs. I'd also like to try to make solar panels out of less conventional materials like plastic."

He says he hopes to bring back new ideas from his Recharge! Retreat experience and share them with the Eco-Reps, perhaps branching the group out to include community members.

Adejare added, "Sustainability really is about the future. It's about making a world we'd love to live in. The actions we do now have a large impact. To have a cleaner tomorrow we have to make the right choices by conserving resources today. It's not just for you, it's for your family, your kids, and grandkids."

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Last Updated August 09, 2011