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A Vision Realized: The Inaugural Texas A&M Conference on Energy

Published: October 5, 2016

Upon his arrival at Texas A&M University as the new director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute in January 2015, Professor Christodoulos A. Floudas envisioned a community of students, postdoctoral associates, faculty members, and staff members at Texas A&M all working together to advance energy-related research and scholarship.

Relentlessly pursuing that effort, he called upon doctoral students and postdoctoral associates from across the Texas A&M campus to join together and form the Texas A&M Energy Research Society (ERS). He charged this newly formed group – soon 450 members strong – to host an innovative event: the first-ever Texas A&M Conference on Energy. This would be a clearinghouse for the latest research on energy topics, ranging from fossil fuels to renewables, and from technical engineering investigations to policy considerations, economic analyses, legal ramifications, security of data and information, as well as modeling, simulation, optimization, and control of energy systems.

Never before had an event of this scale and impact been pursued on these topics, and never before had an event like this been planned and implemented by Texas A&M students. Within weeks, planning for the three-day conference was well underway, and the date was set for September 2016.

Unfortunately, Professor Floudas passed away in August 2016 while on vacation with his family, just one month before the conference.

Nevertheless, the students within ERS, including Professor Floudas’ own research group, pressed on in preparations and planning. Assistance in organizing the event also came from the Texas A&M Energy Institute and the Texas A&M Energy Club.

On the morning of September 26, 2016, the inaugural Texas A&M Conference on Energy began with more than 560 students registered, and opening remarks delivered by Dr. Karan L. Watson, Provost of Texas A&M University, Dr. Glen A. Laine, Vice President for Research at Texas A&M University, Dr. Narasimha Reddy, Associate Dean for Research in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University and Assistant Agency Director for Strategic Initiatives and Centers at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, as well as Dr. Stratos Pistikopoulos, Interim Co-Director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute and TEES Distinguished Research Professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering.

Plenary lectures were offered each of the three days; on Monday, Dr. Geo Richards from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) provided an overview of NETL’s capabilities and interests; on Tuesday, Bill Magness, the president and chief executive officer of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, detailed the landscape and future of power generation and the integration of renewable energy in the state of Texas; and on the final day of the conference, R. W. Martin, a Commercial Design & Negotiation Manager for ExxonMobil, described the vision that ExxonMobil sees for the future of the oil and gas industry, as well as how ExxonMobil is shaping that picture.

Following Professor Floudas’ initial design, the event also featured poster presentations and oral presentations, with strong participation from industry and government. Poster sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday showcased 89 student posters on an extremely diverse set of topics. Over the three-day period, 94 oral presentations were offered and were divided into seven sessions, with each session further divided into two or three parallel tracks per time period. Judging teams reviewed the participants in the poster sessions and the oral presentations, and at the closing of the event on Wednesday, five winners were announced from each type of presentation.

Oral Presentation Winners

Hyosung An“Highly Flexible Self-Assembled V2O5 Cathodes Enabled by Conducting Diblock Copolymers”
Hyosung An, Jared Mike, Kendall A. Smith, Lisa Swank, Yen-Hao Lin, Stacy Pesek, Rafael Verduzco, Jodie L. Lutkenhaus
Burcu Beykal“Constrained Grey-Box Models for Well Injection and Production”
Burcu Beykal, Fani Boukouvala, Nadav Sorek, Hardikkumar Zalavadia, Eduardo Gildin, Christodoulos A. Floudas
Ahmed Aziz Ezzat“Space-Time Modeling of Asymmetric Local Wind Fields”
Ahmed Aziz Ezzat, Mikyoung Jun, Yu Ding
Mohammedreza Keshavarz“Geothermal Foundations as Energy Savers for Buildings”
Mohammadreza Keshavarz, Jean-Louis Briaud, Marcelo Sanchez, Ghassan Akrouch, Charles Culp
Hao Li“Incorporation of Alkylamine through an Acid-Base Reaction into Metal-Organic Frameworks for CO2 Capture”
Hao Li, Kecheng Wang, Dawei Feng, Ying Pin Chen, Wolfgang Verdegaal, Hong-Cai Zhou

Poster Presentation Winners

Susana Leon CaceresProcess Safety Problems Caused by Hydrate Formation in Deepwater Production Operations
Darren LawUnderstanding Microstructural Effects on Electrochemical Performance of Lithium Sulfur Cell
Walter OosthuzienFluidized Bed Gasification for Electricity Generation at Cotton Gins
Changwon SonA Study of Safety Culture Assessment Framework for Chemical Process Industry and Its Application To A Bayesian Belief Network Analysis
Xuan WangRobust Metal-Organic Framework for Methane Storage

The oral presentation parallel session topics included:

  • Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery Design
  • Catalysis and Reaction Engineering for Energy Applications
  • CO2 Capture, Utilization, and Storage
  • Combustion
  • Energy, Food, Water Nexus
  • Energy Policy, Law, Security, and Societal Impact
  • Energy Storage Technologies
  • Fuel Cell Design and Applications
  • Geothermal, Nuclear, and Hydroelectric Energy Technologies
  • Modeling, Simulation, and Design of Energy Systems
  • Multifunctional Materials for Energy Applications
  • Oil and Gas Exploration and Production
  • Optimization and Control of Energy Systems for High-Value Products
  • Outlook, Planning, Operation and Impacts of Renewable Energy
  • Smart Electric Grids

The event was lauded as a tremendous success, credited heavily to the leadership team within ERS, who devoted more than a year of their time to planning and implementation. Paired with the hard work and dedication of the ERS students was the assistance provided by the following entities, who supported the conference through generous financial underwriting and logistical resources.

  • Texas A&M Energy Institute
  • Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study
  • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Gas and Fuels Research Center
  • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Smart Grid Center
  • Texas A&M University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Texas A&M University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Texas A&M University, Division of Research
  • Texas A&M University, Dwight Look College of Engineering
  • Texas A&M University, Mays Business School, Department of Finance
  • Texas A&M University, School of Law