Energy Coalition Celebrates Achievements During 8th Annual Energy Banquet

By Angela Jardina

The Energy Coalition held its eighth annual Energy Banquet at the Hilton University of Houston, to celebrate the organization's members and their many achievements for 2023.

The energy transition and the future of humankind was the central theme of the evening.

Announcing the winners of UH Energy’s “Net Zero by 2050” poster and essay competition was a key highlight of the event. Contestants had to answer the prompt: “What will the world be like in 2050?” Selected from over 30 contestants by a panel of three judges, five finalists presented their works, which ranged from critical minerals to ancient Arabic poetry about the sun. The winners were:

  1. Rawand Hwayyiz, freshman at UH's C.T. Bauer College of Business, was the first place winner and author of "Net-Zero 2050: A Tale of Three Humans."
  2. Jacob Steen, J.D. candidate at the UH Law Center, was the second place winner and winner of the audience favorite vote. His essay was titled "Critical Minerals & the Future of Geopolitics."
  3. Thuan Tran, a UH graduate student pursuing a master's degree in Technology Project Management, won third place and he was the author of "Net Zero and Resistance to Change."

Steve Williams and Ibrahim Islam were finalists in the competition. Williams' entry was titled "Global Race to Netzero Emission by 2050", and Islam authored a piece titled "The Sunset of 2050."

In addition, UH Energy presented awards to outgoing EC leadership and shared highlights of the year’s key EC events and accomplishments, including the annual Energy Career Fair, Energy 101 Conference, and Energy Day.

“The Energy Coalition started off with a very simple idea: ‘How do we come up with pragmatic solutions that are meaningful to society in the energy world, to make energy available to all,’” said University of Houston Vice President for Energy and Innovation Ramanan Krishnamoorti. “The EC has taken a transformational approach to how we think about energy at the University of Houston.”

Subodh Saxena, senior vice chair of greener solutions from Nabors, gave the keynote presentation, which centered on what it means to explore energy without compromise.

“[Industry must] locate the balance that exists between the growing energy needs and the need for decarbonization,” Saxena said. “We can no longer prioritize one over the other, but have to deliver both of these elements.”

Graduating EC Chair Candace Qamer, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management as a 37-year-old mom, describes herself as a non-traditional student and hopes to be an inspiration to those with big dreams.

“It’s really exciting to be in this moment right now, because we’re all really focused on energy transition,” she said. “20 years ago, there was still a debate about climate change. So, graduating right now at this time makes me committed to curbing emission, committed to sustainability, and committed to reducing the carbon footprint … I’m really lucky to be doing this at this moment.”

EC Faculty Adviser and Managing Director of UH Energy Suryanarayanan Radhakrishnan echoed Qamer’s sentiments of how the current and future industry are in-tune with tomorrow’s energy needs.

“Both UH Energy and the Energy Coalition take very seriously the matter of how to get students to be a part of [the transition] journey,” he said. “All of this is about increasing awareness.”