Hello World! A New Beginning for Sunisthefuture

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This is the beginning of a new and exciting journey. I feel as though all of my past training and experience (in math, engineering, sciences, and education), at this juncture in human history, had been preparing for me to face the challenges in our new world of renewable energy. My earnestness in teaching and sharing knowledge and experience in math and sciences is intersecting  my fervor for solar and renewable energy technology for a quarter century.

The current energy dynamics dictates that the world will soon run out of relatively cheap and easily accessible oil (Campbell & Laherrere, 1998) and to be followed with natural gas and coal. So a growing number of environmentalists, scientists, economists, policy experts and citizens understand that alternative energies must be developed quickly; delaying of such developments in alternative energies would at best lead to sagging economic output and productivity and massive wealth transfers to the oil-rich countries of the Middle East by the middle of twenty-first century and at worst may lead to global ecological melt-down, increased wars among nations for oil reserves, and human sufferings on an unimaginable scale.

My interest in solar and renewable energy went as far back to my freshman year in college, while working on a solar energy project, I came to realize that there were only about twenty or so solar companies in US at the time. About twenty-five years ago, after my graduate work was completed at University of Illinois at Urbana-Chmpaign in applied math and engineering, I was one of the three finalists being considered for a position at Argonne National Lab (our nation’s  first national laboratory). One of the panelists of interviewers asked me, “Where do you see the future direction of our energy?” Even realizing that Argonne National Lab was responsible for developing many of the advanced nuclear reactor designs at that time, I could not contain my enthusiasm and honest belief in solar energy and responded, “The cleanest, safest form of renewable energy, without much movable parts… in time, this is where the future will lie, in solar energy.” It may had been a difficult assertion to accept at that time, but a quarter century later, with a recent wiki analysis sponsosred by Etrade, solar industry is now reaching revenues of more than $50-60 billion in a year (in 2009, PV or photovotaics of solar industry alone was reaching revenues of $38.5 billion according to www.wikinvest.com, and www.solarbuzz.com is forecasting the demand growth at more than 100% in 2010). Programs and incentives that have directly stimulated recent growth of renewable energy markets and photovotaics, in particular, included feed-in-tariffs, net-metering, rebate programs, consumer tax deductions, and production tax credits. (Bradford, 2006).

But in a discussion I had with some friends and neighbors, I have come to realize that a good percentage of the American public are not aware of our energy issues or the related incentive policy or programs. In 2010, I became fascinated by a new vehicle of communication, the Facebook, after having read one of the National Bestsellers’ books, Accidental Billionaire.  Yes, Facebook, what better way to reach the American general public, I thought, a vehicle that has already touched more than 500 million people on a global scale! So, I spent a weekend to play around with Facebook, tested out its various features and reported some bugs while setting up the community pages for “Feed-In-Tariff” and “Feed-In-Tariff for Florida” on Facebook.  My intention was to try to educate the American public and bringing awareness to energy issues and its incentive policy and programs, but what I received were responses from overseas (from solar industries in Britain, Canada, and Germany), an invitation to work for Facebook , a letter of support from Ed Begley, Jr. of the hit TV show host of “Living with Ed” (a show about green living) and a call from the Governor’s Office of Florida (Charlie Crist, at the time). Most of the American general public simply could not make sense of the energy issues or take advantage of any of the incentive programs associated with it. I started to see the light or gap in our educational system. The root cause for our lagging behind in having a long-term  comprehensive energy policy (Bamberger, 2004) may be due to a gap in our educational system.  While our system of democracy is wonderful in maintaining the equality and freedom for all and its governing power is supposedly derived from the people, it is necessary to have a group of informed governing body/ people in order to effectively introduce, establish, and test legislatures. While much of the rest of the world (composed of both developed and less developed nations) are moving forward in making the transitions into the renewable energy world as a result of having less democratic but more efficient systems (e.g. Canadian’s energy law/decision on solar feed-in-tariff policy was basically decided by one individual, the Canadian Prime Minister), we are at the mercy of our republic, the truly democratic governing system.  Since I am a strong believer in the system of democracy and less centralized power distribution, then it is necessary to get down to the basic, to reach out and educate our general public about the energy issues and its related policies. It is necessary to bridge the gap of understanding between the basic math and sciences necessary to be applied to the understanding of our renewable energy world. In the coming century, not only will our general public consumers be needing to help shape energy policies, they will also need to be preparing themselves for new industries and job markets associated with the newly developed renewable energy world.

I’ve resigned from a previous teaching post (after having taught mathematics full-time and part time at various universities and colleges for over fifteen years) during part of 2010 to help caring for my dying father. Even before he completely lost his ability to speak, he expressed that last ounce of mortal enthusiasm for some of my interests and plans for a solar energy project. During those few days when he was lucid, he seemed to have that intuitive  understanding of what the future has in store for the human race. So, it is as much for the memory of my father, who carried the family name of “Sun”, as for my interest in taking part and facilitating for the transition of our human race into a new age of renewable energy in the coming century, that I have accepted this challenge.

I grew up in a family/world surrounded by engineers, mathematicians, physicists, and scientists. It is natural that I also ended up with degrees, scholarships, trainings, and work/job experiences in these fields. I did not fully appreciate how much what I/we, as mathematicians, engineers and trained scientists, discussed, sounded foreign to the general American consumers until after I posted those community pages on Feed-In-Tariff and Feed-In-Tariff for Florida.  Some of my old high school buddies had no idea what these incentive policies meant. Upon  conversing with some of the young people currently attending local colleges, they appeared interested but could not make the connection either due to the lack of understanding of basic math and sciences or the lack of ability to apply their understanding of math and science to the energy issues, at first. After spending some time explaining to them the ramifications of our current energy issues and some of the possible incentive programs and industries for alternative energy, these young students became quite excited and interested in searching for future job opportunities in these new renewable energy industries. Although there are a handful of certificate training programs on alternative energy or solar energy workshops online, I believe, at this particular point in human history, there is a gap in the education of our general public that needs to be filled. We need to bring better and more focused understanding of applied math and sciences specifically in association with the energy and alternative energy issues. In light of the current and future growth in renewable energy industries, both in US and abroad, we will need to prepare for current and future generations to be ready for our transition into the renewable energy world.

After my father’s funeral and my mother’s gradual recovery, I’ve returned to the job market and searched mainly for online teaching positions. For after fifteen years of teaching math in traditional classroom format, hybrid format, and online format, I’ve come to have a real sense of appreciation for the online format after I’ve noticed that some of my adult students having difficulty in coming up with gas money to attend class from time to time. I knew that in order to reach all students, the world of online educational technology will be needed tremendously in the coming century.  For the past five years, I have been teaching online math courses at various universities and colleges, I would like to take the challenge of producing a course that would help to bridge the gap of understanding of applied math in our renewable energy world. Since my early association with learning, I’ve often been reminded by various mentors, of math, science, or music, to go back to the basics. Once again, I see the solution to a better future in our renewable energy era is by going back to the basics.

written & posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker, sunisthefuture@gmail.com
Homepage: http://sunisthefuture.net http://sunisthefuture.com http://sunisthefuture.org
Any comments and suggestions are welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics:

www.sunisthefuture.net

www.youtube.com/user/sunisthefuture

www.kiva.org/team/sunisthefuture

www.facebook.com/sunisthefuture

www.pinterest.com/sunisthefuture

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11 Responses to “Hello World! A New Beginning for Sunisthefuture”

  1. jessie Says:

    I have no knowledge in this field but I think to find an alternative energy to save the earth is encourage. You need to find energy companies and gorvernment to support and let the dream come true.

  2. sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker Says:

    Hi, Jessie,
    This is exactly why the blog Sun Is The Future is here, to help to explain
    and increase understanding of how we can utilize solar energy down to
    the basics. Keep your eyes open for posts on “Why Solar?” and please
    feel free to leave comments and/or questions and tell your friends about
    sunisthefuture.net Your inputs will always be welcomed. 🙂
    You can also reach me at sunisthefuture@gmail.com
    sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

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