Ferris State University’s fourth annual Michigan Energy Conference April 13-14 hopes to use its broader agenda to draw a bigger crowd than the first three editions of the springtime event.

“This event started from the educational heritage of Ferris, of programs in technology and energy and sustainability,” said conference co-chair Brian Craig, director of Ferris’ School of the Built Environment. “The first few years of the conference were really focused quite a bit on workshop sessions on specific, pretty technical topics. This year we’ve expanded that, expanded the vision. Now we’re looking at public policy and codes and law and regulation, and how we teach about energy, as well as the technical stuff.”

Debbie Dawson, conference co-chair and director of Ferris’ School of CEEMS — Computer, Electrical, Energy, Mechanical and Surveying Systems — said the multi-university nature of the event also sets it apart from other energy conferences.

“At last count there were seven other universities presenting,” Dawson said. “So we have nice support from our counterparts.”

Those other universities: Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Michigan State University, Saginaw Valley State University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.

The event drew about 160 last year and it’s the goal of the event to top that this year. All Michigan university students may attend the event free, and there’s an educational discount for faculty and staff.

Dawson also said there’s still room for exhibitors, at www.ferris.edu/mec/2011/exhibitorinfo.htm, and sponsors, at www.ferris.edu/mec/2011/sponsorinfo.htm

The event begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 13 with three separate tracks: Michigan commercial and residential energy code changes; building and energy optimization case studies; energy and sustainability; and energy modeling. The 30- and 60 minute sessions range from green manufacturing to green roofing to adaptive building reuse to industrial energy optimization to water conservation to energy financing to solar and wind power for both utilities and individual buildings.

There’s a noon keynote Wednesday featuring General Motors engineer Kristin B. Zimmerman, presenting the Chevrolet Volt. And Wednesday night, there’s a meeting and dinner of the West Michigan Association of Energy Engineers.

Thursday begins with three straight keynote speeches: former U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers on “Public Policy and our Energy Future;” George Erickcek of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research on “Michigan’s Energy Economy;” and Mackinaw Power founder Richard VanderVeen on privately owned wind power in Michigan.

After an awards lunch, Thursday tracks are on energy education, more case studies, the science of energy and residential renewable energy. The one-hour sessions include programs on the renewable energy curriculum at Saginaw Valley State University, implementing energy efficiency projects in Michigan schools, rural energy efficiency, municipal biogas projects and the new Energy Star ratings.

For the full agenda, visit www.ferris.edu/mec/2011/schedule/MEC-schedule2011.htm. The overall event Web site is www.ferris.edu/mec.


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