Five Questions with Emily Carter: Seeking Sustainable Energy Solutions

October 7th, 2013 / Advancement

Emily CarterEmily Carter is the founding director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and applied and computational mathematics. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, she is devoting her career to creating a clean energy future.

1. How do you describe the Andlinger Center’s mission?

Our mission is to help transition the world off of fossil fuels, through research and education that will produce viable sustainable energy and environmental solutions that will preserve the planet for future generations.

2. How do you think involvement in the center’s work benefits students?

One of the major goals of the center is to train the next generation of leaders in energy and energy-related environmental issues. The history of Princeton is that its students become major decision makers in every sector: from company CEOs to Supreme Court justices. Our goal is to educate as many Princeton students as possible about all aspects of the energy challenges our world faces. Our monthly Highlight seminars introduce students to the latest thinking in cutting-edge, energy-related research and policy. For undergraduates, certificates in Technology and Society and Sustainable Energy offer the means to become experts in the energy trade-offs society faces and the impacts of energy technology on society and the environment, as well as detailed technical aspects of a variety of energy technologies.

Emily Carter overlooks Andlinger Center construction

Carter overlooks Andlinger Center construction in March 2012.

3. How would you describe Princeton students?

Amazingly talented, frequently brilliant and innovative, consistently enthusiastic, with soaring ambition, and absolutely committed to making a difference during their time on Earth. 

4. What is the most satisfying element of teaching?

Seeing on the faces of students the exact moment at which they suddenly understand a subtle concept I’ve been trying to convey to them. It is so gratifying to be able to share my understanding of the physical world with them. 

5. What do you hope students take away from their experiences with the center’s faculty and research efforts?

I hope they become inspired to get involved, both personally and professionally, in being a part of the solution to sustain the planet for future generations. I hope they gain a balanced perspective of the pros and cons associated with different energy sources such that they can act as informed citizens, and in turn help inform their families, friends, and coworkers. And when they become leaders in various sectors, as they invariably will, I hope they use what they’ve learned here to inform their long-term decisions. I hope a nontrivial fraction of them fall in love with energy and environmental research and will go on to graduate school to become the next generation of technical leaders in industry, our national laboratories, and academia. And for those who came to Princeton from abroad, I hope that if they decide to return to their home countries, they take what they’ve learned and experienced here and translate it appropriately to help their home countries move onto a sustainable path. The problems we face are global, and so I am hopeful we are training a new generation of sustainable energy and environmental ambassadors who will positively impact every country on Earth.

For information on how you can support the work of the Andlinger Center, contact Jane Maggard, associate dean for development, engineering and applied science, 609.258.6850.