Energetic Influence: David Blittersdorf Tackles World Energy Issues

September 21, 2017

Energetic Influence: David Blittersdorf Tackles World Energy Issues

Energetic Influence: David Blittersdorf Tackles World Energy Issues

David Blittersdorf, MDE ’77, Hon. ’14, knows that preserving the planet is difficult, complicated work, and that the road ahead will be challenging. But he’s convinced that, with the help of the generation that includes current Wentworth students, there is hope for the future.

Blittersdorf, a giant in the world of renewable energy and the founder of Vermont-based AllEarth Renewables, comes to campus on Wednesday, September 27, as part of the “WIT Talks” series. Blittersdorf looks forward to engaging with a student body that has a chance to take practical academic principals from Wentworth and apply them to environmental issues around the globe.

“It is of paramount importance to bring critical thinking and scientific skills back into the public discussion as we move toward a clean, renewable-energy future,” says Blittersdorf, a Wentworth Trustee.

Real-world concepts and on-the-job training have afforded Wentworth students the ability to play a key role in transitioning to wind and solar energy, Blittersdorf says. “Knowledge matters,” he adds.

The importance of education led Blittersdorf to establish the Blittersdorf Professorship, a three- to five-year appointment that includes funding for faculty members to engage in scholarly work with students, or for faculty scholarly work including travel to conferences, the creation of new curriculum, or class supplies.

Blittersdorf believes that past and present generations, including his own, have relied heavily on finite resources to build a modern world. Reinforcing the message that this is an unsustainable model is one of his top priorities.

“I want to do everything I can to help position Wentworth students to successfully lead this transition,” he says. “We are handing them a world with significant challenges, and I want to make sure the next generation has the skill and insight to solve those challenges.”

Blittersdorf’s career in renewable energy began more than 35 years ago when he founded NRG Systems in 1982 to develop wind measurement technology. In 2004, he started AllEarth Renewables, which designs and manufactures grid-tied solar PV tracking systems. AllEarth’s latest product, the Gen 4 Solar Tracker, can remotely check on power generation and follow the sun even when the grid is down.

He is also developing small wind farms in Massachusetts and Vermont, and hopes to bring an intercity rail network to Vermont using 12 self-powered passenger cars, perhaps as soon as 2018.

“We spend a lot of time driving,” Blittersdorf says, “and we need a better public transit infrastructure that will get us out of our cars.”

Blittersdorf recognizes that the subject of renewable and green energy is often politicized, but he believes that a “broad, unified vision, and a practical, hands-on approach” are necessary to keep the planet habitable. During his talk, he plans to discuss that vision, steps he and others are taking to move further into clean renewables, and why green technology is guaranteed to be a part of everyone’s future.

“Energy is the foundation of our modern life,” he says, noting that certain energy sources will not always be available. “Humanity has overcome other significant challenges in the past through ingenuity and persistence.”

 “WIT Talks” will take place Wednesday, September 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room in Beatty Hall. Click here to find more information or to register for the event. If you cannot attend “WIT Talks” in person, catch our livestream at wit.edu/livestream at the time of the event.

--Greg Abazorius

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