Into The Future
By James E. Quick
NASA’s satellite image of the Earth at night
underscores the timeliness of Provost Paul
Ludden’s initiative on energy sustainability.
With Earth’s population rapidly approaching 7 billion,
the increasing demand for energy will continue
to push the cost of fossil fuel ever upward.
The question is: “How do we keep the lights on?”
The answer lies in a combination of solutions that
will require input from multiple disciplines. We need
to locate new petroleum reserves and improve recovery,
develop alternative sources of renewable energy,
develop conservation strategies and technologies, and
educate the next generation of scientists, engineers,
and business men and women who will continue to
keep the future of America bright.
SMU already is engaged. The Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College,
which has a long history of close association with the petroleum industry, is home to the
nationally recognized Geothermal Laboratory. Through a memo of understanding with the
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, SMU scientists are attempting to bring
geo-thermal energy to people for whom $4-a-gallon gasoline is a fond memory and the cost of
diesel-generated electricity is simply no longer affordable. SMU engineering has created a new
generation of flow meters that will provide information crucial to maximizing petroleum recovery.
The Maguire Energy Institute in Cox School of Business facilitates the exchange of
ideas and provides educational materials for students and teachers on the role of the energy
industry in our society.
But we need to do more, and more right away, and the provost’s initiative recognizes that
SMU is well positioned to contribute significantly to the solution through expansion of
research and educational programs.