Students move future of transportation forward

Nov. 1, 2010

by Karen Faster

Alumni and a student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's La Follette School of Public Affairs are advancing discussion of transportation options that use less energy, and emit fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases by helping to organize the Energy Hub conference Friday, Nov. 5.

The free conference, titled "Moving Forward: Powering Our Transportation Future," is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Monona Terrace and is open to all UW-Madison students.

Registration is required via the Energy Hub website. Students will give poster sessions.

"The conference will encompass everything from the challenges of optimizing the power grid for the integration of millions of plug-in electric cars to understanding the supply chain for biomass fuels, which starts in a field or forest, and ends in a fuel tank or furnace," says conference director Lael Grigg, a second-year master of public affairs student.

Gary Radloff of the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative will start the conference with a mini-lecture on the supply chain for biomass fuels at 9 a.m.

A panel discussion on alternative fuel strategies for transportation follows at 9:20 a.m. Skip Laitner of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy will give a keynote at 11 a.m., while John Oimoen of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will give a primer on high-speed rail at 1 p.m.

La Follette School 2010 alum Corey Singletary, now a program and policy analyst with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, will lead a panel discussion on electric vehicles, and at 3:30, Saul Griffith, founder of WattzOn.com and a 2007 MacArthur fellow, will give a keynote by videoconference.

Hybrid-electric, plug-in electric, and biofuel-powered cars and trucks, and electric motorcycles and scooters will be displayed at the Alt-Vehicle Expo on the lower level from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Alt-Vehicle Expo will feature the latest technology from Smart USA, Columbia ParCar, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Zero Motorcycles. Attendees also will be able to learn about alternative-transportation options available in the Madison area, including Community Car and Green Cab. Cyclists can practice loading a bike onto a demonstration model of the rack on all Madison Metro buses.

Energy Hub connects UW-Madison students, researchers and organizations involved with energy issues to make events and information more accessible to students and to provide a forum for discussion. Energy Hub also connects students with professionals in the energy industry to encourage communication between academe and industry and to link students to career and internship opportunities.