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shifts from coal to gas, with lower carbon dioxide emissions. Lower gas prices have had some impact on marginal nuclear plants, typically smaller plants. A few have closed. If you go to renewables, the extent to which gas prices fall, it can have an effect. However, we should not forget that over the past four to five years, during the shale gas boom, we have seen wind, solar and thermal double in the United States and we expect another doubling in the next five or so years.

HE&IT: What is it going to take for the nation to shift to a mostly renewable energy portfolio?

Secretary Moniz: First of all, continued price reduction is very important for all the low-carbon technologies, so we will con- tinue to try to drive cost reduction. Secondly, we do expect that we are going to continue on a pathway to lower emis- sions and so the zero-carbon options will become increasingly attractive there. But, third, some of the renewables—solar, for example, lend themselves very well to distributed energy which I think is attractive to many people—roof-top solar, etc. And, of course, the commercial big-box roofs. Solar also has the attraction of tending to be maximal when the demand is highest. So it plays a very positive role in that sense in the whole electric grid system.

HE&IT: What should students be doing to prepare them- selves for careers in the energy sector?

Secretary Moniz: The acronym is STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I think STEM education is very central for the career aspirations of just about anybody. But certainly in the energy field STEM is critical. Whether it is for technicians to install solar systems, or for Ph.D. researchers for the next new material and for everything in between, STEM familiarity is absolutely essential. That’s where I would say students should really focus their efforts.

HE&IT: What about for getting more minority students into energy sector jobs, is the prescription the same?

Secretary Moniz: Again, STEM education is central. That is true for anyone and certainly for minorities. l think another thing for minorities in many cases—not in all cases, obvi- ously—is exposure to the opportunities. The president likes to speak about ladders of opportunity into middle-class jobs. And I think there is a very strong case, certainly in these last years, partly driven by the oil and gas revolutions in this country but also by the cutting-edge technologies that come into renew- ables and nuclear and often to efficiency as well. Those areas have provided those ladders of opportunity. If you take the oil and gas business, for example, one of the things we started here at the Department of Energy was the Minorities in Energy

Initiative, which includes an ambassadors program. Many of the ambassadors are themselves underrepresented minorities, but some are not. For example, Jack Gerard, president and executive director of the American Petroleum Institute, is an ambassador and he is dedicated to this issue of diversity. He is very dedicated to this issue because the oil and gas indus- try has huge manpower needs and womanpower needs over these next years and they need to attract more minorities to be able to fulfill them.

HE&IT: What are the best sources of summer jobs and internships that lead to energy careers?

Secretary Moniz: First of all, with the energy companies

“STEM education is central. That is true for anyone and certainly for minorities. l think another thing for minorities in many cases—not in all cases, obviously— is exposure to the opportunities.” —Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of Energy

themselves. They offer internships, etc. I might also add that the national laboratories have summer internship programs. Some are focused specifically on minorities. I will look into this: maybe there is something we can do with our Web site that could be a good point of contact for students.

HE&IT: Our final question. Why did you want to be energy secretary. What about the job intrigued you?

Secretary Moniz: Well, a chance to serve is number one. The president is very convincing. Also, the Department of Energy has a set of missions that are areas that I have spent an awful lot of time on over a very long period of time. The depart- ment really provides the foundation for the American physi- cal science research enterprise. In addition, advancing clean energy policies is something that I have been working on at MIT very intensively for the last decade. Also, the department is really the lead agency for nuclear security. This department has some tremendously important national missions. And they align with the president’s priorities. Most of all, the president asked and I was delighted to say yes.

HISPANIC ENGINEER & Information Technology | Fall 2014 11

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