STEM@STAC Panel is a Huge Success


Kayla Healey

The panelists each brought a unique perspective from their experience working in the energy and environment sectors.

Kayla Healey, Contributor

Bianca Wentzell’s father used to take her on hikes in the woods near her home so she could see all the living organisms there. “Since I was a young child, I have always been interested in nature.” Wentzell says.

Wentzell’s walks in the woods sparked a curiosity that led her to where she is today – teaching the course titled “Current Environmental Issues” at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

On Wednesday, Wentzell shared her lifelong passion with the STAC community when she hosted a panel on “Sustainable Solutions for Climate Change” in the Lougheed Library.

Over 50 students and faculty members turned out for the event.

Among the attendees was Hall of Fame New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, who owns Brightcore, a clean energy company based in Armonk, NY. Richter will be returning to STAC to give a Signature STAC Chat later in the semester.

The event was sponsored by the School of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Advisory Board, which is made up of representatives from leading STEM organizations (Pfizer, Brookhaven National Laboratory, National Grid, Orange & Rockland Utilities, Valley Hospital, and many others).

“We hope through this panel, and the others we will hold in the future, that we will welcome students and the community into conversations about some of the biggest issues we face in our world today, as well as show that STEM education is critical to helping us address these issues.” Wentzell said.

The panelists included Ken Daly, the president of St. Thomas Aquinas College; Robert Catell, STEM at STAC Advisory Board Chair; Carlos Nouel, the Vice President of Transformation Programs at National Grid; Sameer Ranade, a senior specialist at Con Edison and a STAC alumnus. The panelists have vast experience in different fields relating to the environment and are energy industry leaders.

“When you look back in history, any time society had a challenge, it was the next generation that helped to solve it,” Daly said.

The event was well attended by students and faculty alike. (Kayla Healey)

This was the overarching theme of this panel as students were encouraged to make their mark on history by helping in the environmental challenge of climate change.

Change has to start somewhere, and the goal of this panel was to inspire students to incite change in their own lives, whether through an awareness of climate change’s impact on the environment or thinking about a career in the energy industry, Wentzell noted.

Students were encouraged to make small changes that can help the environment like walking to nearby locations rather than driving, using reusable items rather than disposable ones, and making your voice heard on important issues. This will ensure we have a brighter future for our planet.

The panelists also offered lots of information regarding electric vehicles and how that shift is one of the most prominent in our society right now. Ten years ago, few would have expected that electric vehicles would be as popular as they are today. But in 2022, purchases of electric vehicles surged 65% over the previous year.

“I would love for attendees to come away from the panel with new knowledge about innovation in the energy industry to help combat climate change, and also with an understanding that we need everyone’s voices to be heard in these conversations,” Wentzell said.