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Alum teaches course on renewable fuel sources

As part of walking the talk on the energy front, the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering introduced a new course this year on ag-based renewable fuels, taught by Samir Somaiya '90, M.S. '92, MBA '93 (and MPA '05, Harvard), executive director of the Godavari Sugar Mills Ltd. in India.

Somaiya took time off from his job to teach the course, which focused on the potential of agriculture to provide renewable energy resources from the perspective of the Indian agricultural market and the Indian economy, both of which differ considerably from conditions in the United States and Western Europe.

For example, Somaiya looked at sugarcane as a feedstock, explaining how markets can create an environment that allows for innovation; he then discussed how successful implementation includes the need to extend innovation in areas of biotechnology, chemistry, engineering, agriculture, public policy, markets and even microfinance.

The course was well received, and Somaiya will return in two years to offer it again. The course is a model for the Engineering College to offer international perspectives in electives, in which speakers visit every two to three years to present a concentrated three-week course for "energy-hungry" students.

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