Mechanical engineering Assistant Professor Mark Fleming and three MSOE students had the opportunity to head to Madison, Wisconsin for the 2024 Wisconsin Renewable Energy Summit earlier this month. The summit was held in the state capital by RENEW Wisconsin, a non-profit organization focused on the advancement of renewable energy in Wisconsin.

“It was a unique experience where all aspects of the renewable energy community had a chance to come together and discuss the future of energy in the state,” said Fleming.

The summit featured a variety of speakers and panels discussing the current state of renewable energy in Wisconsin as well as future challenges for developing new renewable energy systems. In addition to discussing current and future projects, members from other areas in the renewable energy sector talked about policy, infrastructure and integration.

“One of the moderated panels discussed how a majority of Wisconsinites were pro-renewable energy development when future renewable energy projects focused on local job creation, energy independence and reduced energy costs in addition to the standard low carbon, environmentally friendly messaging that is traditionally used.”

Fleming teaches a course on renewable energy—Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems—for mechanical engineering students. The course includes a focus on the technical aspects of renewable energy, fundamentals of the electricity grid, energy storage systems and climate change. Attending the summit gave Fleming the opportunity to integrate new topics into his class moving forward, such as public policy, so his students can see all aspects that impact the world of renewable energy.

Olivier Godziszewski ’25, Narisse King ’24 and Anthony Whylie ’24 were the three mechanical engineering students who joined Fleming at the summit. Being in attendance gave them the opportunity to expand their knowledge outside of the classroom and learn more about the policy side of renewable energy and how renewable energy is currently being implemented.

“The speakers made sure to emphasize that renewable energy development is a bipartisan issue and discussed the differences in perspective that come between lawmakers and a unified strategy to address the energy crisis,” said King. “It gave me some real-life insight into the hurdles that engineers have to account for when developing/integrating new technologies.”

“It was interesting to see how many school districts will start to deploy electric school buses in Wisconsin and how beneficial they will be as opposed to the diesel ones we are used to,” said Whylie.

The students also had the opportunity to network and make connections with members of the industry as they are working to launch a student organization on campus focused on renewable energy.

“We wanted to shine light on our new renewable energy club that we are in the process of starting at MSOE, working to obtain partners so we can jumpstart the club and immediately enter competitions,” said Godziszewski.