Students from colleges across Southeastern Europe assembled recently to learn more about their country’s energy-resource needs and the role they might play in developing solutions to meet these needs. The students gathered at the American University in Kosovo for the first South-East Europe Future Energy Leadership Conference in Pristina, Kosovo, in December.
Organized by the students, the conference covered topics on thermal and hydro power, energy trade legislation and the development of the region’s nuclear power infrastructure—some of the most pressing issues in the region.
“We wanted to gather students together to talk about energy issues, a much-debated topic in the world today,” says Vlora Berbatovci, one of the conference organizers. Along with Agon Nixha and Rudina Hasimja, Berbatovci led a committee of students that planned the event from accommodations and catering to transportation and social activities.
The American University in Kosovo students visited other colleges in the region to recruit participants to attend and participate as workshop speakers at the conference. They also invited leaders from government and industry to give a global perspective of how natural resources can be developed in the region, says Berbatovci.
The student-presenters discussed topics such as renewable energy sources in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as broader topics like distributed versus centralized power generation. All sessions were an opportunity to raise awareness about the various countries and their specific challenges related to producing and maximizing energy resources, says Nixha. “The conference had a broader goal, which was to create a network, a community between the universities and regional countries about important energy resources,” says Nixha.
Several faculty and students from the Rochester campus attended the conference. Carl Lundgren, professor of mechanical engineering technology, joined Lyndsey McGrath, international program manager, Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, and six students at the conference. One of the Rochester attendees, Jesse Harrington, a graduate student in the industrial design program, ran a workshop at the conference called EnLIGHTenment which was focused on introducing the idea of pedal power technology to the students and was also a teambuilding exercise.
“We thought this conference would be a great way to engage RIT students,” says McGrath.
The group intends to continue work begun at the conference, and set up a Facebook page to share additional information and follow up recommendations from the event.
“The conference was a way to introduce people to Kosovo,” says Nixha. Many participants had not traveled to the country in years, or at all. Participants left impressed with the country and the conference, he added.
“The relationships have been created,” he says. “They want to continue the projects and the other colleges might have a conference like this one next year.”
The conference was funded by the United States Embassy in Kosovo. Additional funding and support was provided by the Center for Energy and Natural Resources. The center is a partnership between American University in Kosovo, RIT, multiple ministries of the Kosovo government and international organizations focusing on the sustainable development of Kosovo’s energy and natural resources.
“Events like this bring people together to discuss issues that concern us all,” says Hixha. “We can work together to come up with recommendations and initiatives by sharing information from our peers from the world and the region.”