Beyond the MBA Classroom: MIT Sloan Energy Conference

When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment, but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school.

Held each spring since 2006, the MIT Energy Conference attracts technologists, investors, entrepreneurs, policy makers and energy professionals who are defining the world’s energy future. The conference theme in 2011 was “Confronting Limits with Fact-Based Analysis,” and the event’s keynote speakers included Ray Mabus, U.S. secretary of the Navy, and James E. Rogers, the chairman, president, and CEO of Duke Energy. The sold-out event offered panel discussions on “Strategic Materials for Energy,” “Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure,” “Risky Business: Is the Age of Big Energy Passé?” and “Renewable Fuels: New Options for Fossil-Free Energy.”

In 2009, a set of Friday workshops was added to the schedule for the conference; at the 2011 event, these workshops included “Food, Water, and Energy Nexus,” “Energy Megaprojects: Scale and Complexity” and “Building Energy Management Systems.” All the Friday workshops were open to the public, as was the Friday night showcase, which featured more than 100 presenters (half from academia and half from industry) and attracted more than 1,500 attendees.  Held in a casual cocktail-party style, the showcase allowed attendees to interact with prominent energy researchers and entrepreneurs.

In 2010, one of the more eagerly anticipated exhibits was from Britain’s University of Warwick, whose researchers unveiled the world’s first Formula 3 racing car that they describe as  “powered by chocolate, steered by carrots, has bodywork made from potatoes, and can still do 125 mph around corners.” In 2011, two of the notable presentations were of a military Hummer retrofitted with GenShock shock absorbers and a retrofitted hybrid Lincoln Town Car.

For in-depth descriptions of social and community activities at MIT Sloan and 15 other top MBA programs, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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