Energy and Sustainability Policy
Program Office

Students and Alumni in Action

Student Spotlight

Christine Stallard on graduation day with ESP instructor, Haley Sankey.

Adult learner fulfills lifelong goal, shares experiences through online program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For nearly four decades, Christine Stallard has dreamed about getting a bachelor’s degree. Now, in her 60s, Stallard finally fulfilled that dream. In May 2017, she graduated from the online Energy Sustainability and Policy program, offered through Penn State World Campus and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The program not only allowed her to fulfill her dream but it also allowed her to share her wealth of knowledge about the electricity industry with classmates. Read the entire article here.

Image: Christine Stallard on graduation day with ESP instructor Haley Sankey.

 

Meg Wieger in IrelandKelli Volkomer in Switzerland

Energy and sustainabilty policy students take advantage of flexible program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Meg Wieger finished high school early to pursue her dream of becoming a country music singer. Now, she’s pursuing another dream: earning a college degree and beginning a career in the renewable energy industry. Recently, she visited Ireland to fulfill the study abroad component to her energy and sustainability policy major at Penn State’s World Campus. Read the entire article here.

Image: Meg Wieger in Ireland and Kelli Volkomer in Switzerland.


Alumni Spotlight

Marielle Martin snowshoeing in the mountains

ESP Alum, Marielle Martin puts her education to work!

While an ESP student, Marielle Martin completed degree requirements from her home in Palmyra, Pennsylvania. Nowadays Marielle can now be found in Denver, Colorado, working as a Senior Photovoltaic Site Modeler for Sunrun Inc.

After graduation in December 2015, Marielle scoured the job ads, focusing on opportunities in the renewable energy field. After applying for a position as an Energy Adviser with Sunrun, Marielle was contacted and asked if she’d be interested in interviewing for a Photovoltaic Site Modeling position instead. She agreed, and now Marielle works on a Site Modeling team with 16 other people in Sunrun’s Design Engineering Department.

Sunrun currently operates in 14 states and seeks to “provide planet-changing home solar in a simple, inexpensive, low-risk way.” They provide customized solar systems, designed and installed to fit “customer’s homes, lifestyles and savings goals.” Sunrun uses a trademarked technology that enables them to design a system using basic information and satellite imagery of customer’s homes. They also offer payment plans that make solar installation more accessible to a broader range of people. (Sunrun, 2017)

The Site Modeling Team at Sunrun is responsible for creating digital models of potential customers’ homes and surrounding property, and then generating preliminary solar system design options. Marielle’s primary responsibilities include the creation and maintenance of a reference guide that contains the process and reference materials needed for each potential project site. She spends the majority of her days updating content and fielding questions, while also communicating and coordinating processes with Design Engineers.

The reference guide Marielle created allows the Site Modeling team to easily access important regulations and requirement information based on the project’s location. For example, each “Authority Having Jurisdiction” or AHJ (e.g. villages, municipalities, cities, boroughs, etc.) maintains different regulations regarding roof setbacks (the distance that solar panels need to be from the side and top edges of a roof). Marielle’s reference database makes this type of information easily accessible to the Site Modeling team. For the Modelers, it’s critically important to be able to access quickly the local AHJ’s regulations when designing potential systems. Since Sunrun works in multiple states, and with multiple sales partners and installation branches, it is imperative that each of the variables are taken into consideration when modeling each site.

February 1, 2017 was Marielle’s one year anniversary working with Sunrun. Marielle is happy with her position and says she enjoys the variety that the position offers and the people she gets to work with. “I get to work on different projects and tasks every day… it’s the enjoyable work environment that really seals the deal.” In addition to the reference guide, Marielle also provides quality review for the Site Modeling team, and updates Sunrun’s internal website content. She also serves as a leader on the company’s Engagement Team, organizing things like Lunch & Learns, volunteer opportunities, and social activities.

Experiences gained while a student in the ESP program have helped Marielle be successful in her current position. “The simple necessity of learning to communicate effectively through technology is critical to my job. I also use general policy concepts like SWOT analysis to compare potential tools, resources, and process changes. In a more technical sense, understanding energy concepts (power, energy, efficiency, etc) is important when talking with sales representatives.” Marielle credits courses like EGEE 102, EME 444, EGEE 401, EGEE 495 and GEOG 432 with providing her with a solid foundational knowledge in energy and solar concepts and an understanding of the potential future of energy. However, she states that the Capstone course, “EME 466, may have been most important to my position, which taught me to how to prepare and present an idea. I use this skill whenever I modify or write a new process, or present an up training session.”

In her last year as an ESP student, Marielle interned at EcoStrategies, LLC in South Burlington, VT. During her internship she worked on several projects including the Capital Commuters Program, the Go Vermont initiative, and worked with the Vermont Energy & Climate Action Network. While interning she attended multiple outreach events and created various materials to communicate effective strategies to help commuters conserve resources and increase energy efficiency.

When asked if she could give fellow ESP students some helpful advice as they enter the job market, Marielle responded, “The jobs are out there!” She also added that distinguishing yourself is a great idea, suggesting that students near graduation, “take NABCEP training, strive to be an EMSAGE Laureate, or get LEED certified!”

You can meet ESP alumni, such as Marielle by joining the ESP LinkedIn group called “Penn State ESP Majors and Alumni”.

Image: Marielle Martin.
Written by: Haley Sankey
February 3, 2017

Student Spotlight

Tip Stama at dairy farm

College marshal starts career before graduation with help from online degree

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Choosing to finish a degree through Penn State World Campus was easy for Tip Stama, but he still faced hurdles during his educational journey. In August, after taking a hiatus from his studies, Stama will graduate with a 4.0 grade-point average and a bachelor of arts in energy and sustainability policy (ESP), an online College of Earth and Mineral Sciences program. He will represent his graduating class as college marshal and is the second ESP graduate selected for this honor. Unlike most students who start working full time after graduating, Stama began his career as an environmental compliance specialist in May. Read the entire article.
Image: Tip Stama.

Student Spotlight

Mike Reichart at wetland

EMS student among first in world to earn society’s sustainability certification

Mike Reichart, an energy and sustainability policy student, is one of the first people in the world to receive professional certification through the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. Read the entire article

Image: Mike Reichart.

 

 

ESP students attend EnergyPath

front row (l-r), Bethany Steiner, Jamie Hetrick, Kayla Kalinoski, Michael Reichart, Al Rutter
back row (l-r) Mark Moore, Kelli Gohn, me, Brian Hillard, Mark Mulhollem
Photo credit: James Volkomer
 
Recently the Sustainable Energy Fund held the 2015 EnergyPath Expo at University of Scranton. Eight Energy and Sustainability Policy students attended. Six of which participated in Dr. Vera Cole's solar boot camp and two others attended one of the other bootcamps offered. 
 
There are full scholarships available to students, so check out the website and be sure to put it on your calendar for next year. The Expo and Bootcamps will be held at the Penn State University Park campus in 2016.
 

More ESP Graduates!

Over the weekend the ESP program celebrated three graduates: Geoffry Soura, Mark Staub and Vanessa White. All three were able to attend graduation and take part in the World Campus reception. ESP faculty member Brandi Robinson was able to attend the ceremonies and celebrate our graduates' accomplishments! Congrats to our graduates!!

ESP Graduates Mark Staub, Vanessa White and Geoffry Soura with Brandi Robinson
ESP Graduates Mark Staub, Vanessa White and Geoffry Soura celebrate graduation with ESP Faculty member, Brandi Robinson.
Photo provided by Brandi Robinson.
ESP Graduates Mark Staub, Vanessa White and Geoffry Soura.
Photo provided by Brandi Robinson.

 

Study Abroad or Intern?

You can read about the experiences of our ESP students who completed their internship and study abroad experiences in the Summer 2012 semester.

Learn more about Justin Polosky's internship experience by checking out his blog.

 

First ESP Graduates

Over the weekend the ESP program celebrated its first graduates; Todd Venetz and Amanda Fuller. Mandy was able to attend graduation and take part in the World Campus reception where she got to meet other World Campus students and ESP faculty members Brandi Robinson and Dr. Vera Cole. Another ESP student, Rory Spangler, walked in Commencement and hopes to complete his degree requirements this fall. The photos below were provided by Brandi Robinson.

You can visit Penn State Live to read the press release about these first ESP graduates!

Summer 2012 Graduation at Bryce Jordan Center, State College PA
Summer 2012 Graduation at Bryce Jordan Center, State College, PA.
ESP Graduates Accept Diplomas on Stage
ESP Graduates Accept Diplomas on Stage
Brandi Robinson, Amanda Fuller (ESP Grad), and Dr. Vera Cole
Brandi Robinson, Amanda Fuller (ESP Grad), and Dr. Vera Cole
Brandi Robinson, Rory Spangler, and Dr. Vera Cole
Brandi Robinson, Rory Spangler (ESP Grad), and Dr. Vera Cole
Dr. Vera Cole, Mandy Fuller and Brandi Robinson at the World Campus Graduation Celebration
Dr. Vera Cole, Mandy Fuller and Brandi Robinson at the World Campus Graduation Celebration