Liberal Arts student focuses his ‘energy’ on politics

Patrick Meyer has his eyes set on Washington D.C. His long-term goal of working in the capital is fueled by his passion for the environment and his desire to be heard.

Meyer, a graduate student in science, technology and public policy in the College of Liberal Arts, spent much of last summer on Capitol Hill as a representative of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers–USA. As an intern, he attended congressional hearings and other legislative proceedings on behalf of IEEE, and analyzed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The internship culminated in his first electronic book, The Reliability of the Electric Transmission Infrastructure in the 21st Century: An Analysis of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and a return trip to Washington in September to present his findings to the IEEE–USA Energy Policy Committee.

“I was able to spark some controversial debate over what the priorities of the Energy Policy Committee should be regarding the Energy Policy Act,” Meyer says. “I was satisfied with this—I was able to get the engineers thinking about diverse ways in which this legislation could have a direct impact on their profession.”

Working among engineers, but not an engineer himself, Meyer likes the advantage public policy gives him to make a difference.

Meyer, who started his academic career at RIT as an environmental science major before switching to public policy, says he prefers to “work off the beaten path.”

“Public policy—especially at RIT—is a very unique profession, and I love that about it. Also, it allows for a flexibility in interests that is not as easy to come by in science or engineering.”

Meyer, from East Granby, Conn., will graduate this spring with his master’s degree and the résumé of a student who jumps at opportunity. The publication staff at IEEE tapped Meyer’s knack for conveying policy-related subjects to an engineering audience and assigned him three articles that ran in IEEE–USA’s Today’s Engineer Online and a four-part article for the “Student’s Voice” column in the publication’s print edition. In addition, he also is serving as the professional activities editor and student’s voice editor until the end of 2006.

“IEEE–USA was great about letting me pursue my own interests, and letting me get actively involved with many aspects of the organization,” Meyer says.

His other résumé bullets include a feasibility study of industrial sharing of excess renewable energy he conducted for Harbec Plastics Inc., a small private corporation, and a research assistantship on a U.S. Department of Transportation grant he completed under the guidance of James Winebrake, chair of science, technology and public policy.

The DOT project challenged Meyer to develop a model for policy specialists to analyze total fuel-cycle energy and emissions impacts of selected marine policies, also known as the Total Energy and Emissions Analysis of Marine Systems, or TEAMS.

“TEAMS is important because prior to its development there were no models for policy makers to use to understand the energy, emissions and environmental impacts of marine policies that mandate the use of alternative fuels for ships,” Meyer says. “TEAMS allows a user to accurately see the impacts of running a ship—a New York City ferry, for example—on six alternate fuel types.”

A paper summarizing the project was submitted for inclusion in the annual International Conference on Life Cycle Engineering in Belgium this summer and, if accepted, Meyer is ready to go.

Not one to sit still, Meyer’s next goal is to earn his doctorate degree in environmental and energy policy at the University of Delaware and to focus on the international level of energy sustainability. This will likely lead him back to Washington, where, using public policy as his platform, Meyer is certain to make a difference.

RIT News & Events, Apr. 6, 2006