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A New Era of Energy

Professor Christodoulos A. Floudas
Director, Texas A&M Energy Institute
Erle Nye ’59 Chair Professor for Engineering Excellence
Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering

Growing up in Greece, I learned to appreciate the value of pursuing excellence through diligence and precise work. In Greek, the word for ‘work’ is ἐνέργεια, which happens to be the root word for the English word ‘energy.’ Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this Greek-English connection foreshadowed my life’s work.

My interest in energy began in college, where I pursued a chemical engineering degree in Greece at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and then studied the analysis and optimization of energy systems for my Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I joined the faculty at Princeton University after completing my education and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering in 2011 and to the Academy of Athens in 2014. This caught the attention of the Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study—a program that invites high-caliber researchers to study at Texas A&M—and in 2014, I joined the institute as a faculty fellow.

Once on campus, it didn’t take long to recognize the endless possibilities for collaboration and advancement in energy-related research at Texas A&M. A desire to harness that potential led me to leave my 29-year teaching career at Princeton to direct the Texas A&M Energy Institute.

My passion for energy research stems from the contributions that my students, colleagues and I make in our field and the opportunity to make a difference in a world that has an urgent need for more effective and sustainable energy solutions. At the Energy Institute, we focus on scientific and technological energy challenges that impact society—ranging from storing power in electric cars, to recovering oil or gas from new sources, to removing contaminants from water, gas or other liquids used in energy generation and processing. With more than 225 faculty affiliates from across the College Station, Galveston, Fort Worth and Qatar campuses, the institute is truly a large-scale interdisciplinary collaboration poised to address the world’s most pressing energy issues.

A key component of our collaboration is our ability to pay special attention to how energy interacts with engineering, science, the environment, economics, law, health and public policy. We also recognize the importance of all types of natural resources, whether it is fossil-based energy sources, renewable energy innovations, non-fossil based energy options or water resources management. No matter the type, as we enter a new era, it is increasingly important that our society uses natural resources wisely, integrates them efficiently and preserves them steadfastly.

New TAMU Energy Education Programs

Energy challenges such as these must be answered with pioneering minds. In fall 2016, Texas A&M will launch a new 10-month thesis or non-thesis Master of Science in Energy degree program and a Certificate in Energy. As part of these innovative programs, students will interact with energy leaders from academia, industry and government as they learn about technology, engineering methods, economics, law, security and policy related to energy.

Wholly unique, these programs will introduce students and professionals to multi-scale energy systems engineering methods, an overview of energy technologies—fossil-based, renewable and non-fossil based—and energy economics, law, security, policy and societal impact.