PITTSBURGH, Sept. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fielding questions from Carnegie Mellon University students, faculty and staff, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards today outlined their departments' roles in ushering in a more energy-efficient future.
Both secretaries were queried on wide-ranging topics -- from increasing the number of women in conservation, engineering and transportation fields, to the effects of ever-tightening budgets -- in what the university billed as a "Fireside Chat" examining "The Future of Sustainability, Efficiency and Transportation."
"I commend the university for embracing this collaborative spirit," Dunn told listeners gathered in the university's Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall. "You ask us what we are doing in these three fields and we will try our best to tell you how you can help. To those students in the audience, you are the leaders of tomorrow, so you need to be involved in conversations like these today."
Noting the strong attendance at today's session, Secretary Richards applauded efforts of the university's Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation in linking students and faculty with involvement in the transportation, energy and environment fields.
"Talking with the future leaders in transportation and engineering is a great opportunity to show how their government is using technologies to improve their current and future transportation system," Richards said. "I'm also proud of everything PennDOT is doing to include community and business needs as we plan future projects."
Anna J. Siefken, associate director for strategic partnerships and innovation at the Scott Institute noted "this unique event brings together state government leaders to discuss how each is driving efficiency and innovation within the DCNR and PennDOT."
"The discussion will resonate well with those in the CMU community who work to find solutions for transportation and sustainability challenges," said Siefken, who organized the "fireside chat." "For example, through CMU's Smart Cities initiative, our expertise is changing the way people and vehicles move in cities. Other energy experts are specializing in areas ranging from climate change, to water treatment, to building efficiency."
Asked to comment on DCNR's commitment to energy and water conservation at state park and state forest offices, Dunn listed 14 new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings constructed in recent years. Also, existing solar installments of varying sizes now supply power at eight state parks across the state.
"Upcoming solar array projects will be larger scale and designed to take a building or an entire park to net zero reliance on other electric sources," Dunn said. "Also, I must point out, nearby Point State Park has committed to the Pittsburgh 2030 District, that is, reducing energy and water consumption for existing buildings by 50 percent by the year 2030."
Richards cited the department's work on the safe and efficient development of automated vehicle technologies, most recently on display at a two-day state Automated Vehicle Summit on September 11 and 12, as one way in which technology is being integrated into transportation planning.
In discussing transportation's role in supporting communities and businesses, Richards explained how the department's PennDOT Connects project-planning approach is enhancing local engagement in project development.
Richards and Dunn both underscored the importance of increasing the number of women in engineering and other technical fields. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are more than 60 million women in the labor force today, yet women make up only 8 percent of engineers, 18 percent of engineering technicians, and 30 percent of natural scientists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that roughly 15 percent of the more than 9.1 million people working in transportation and material-moving occupations are women.
The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation works through the academic units of Carnegie Mellon University to find solutions for the nation's and the world's energy challenges, including pathways to a low carbon future, smart grid, new materials for energy, shale gas, and building energy efficiency through research, strategic partnerships, public policy outreach and education. The institute lists more than 130 faculty members focused on aspects of energy-related research.
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation