UT EcoCAR 2 Students Invoke Passion for Cleaner Energy

The University of Tennessee’s EcoCAR 2 team (Team Tennessee) has a passion for sustainability and clean energy, and with a recent partnership with the Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Council (TREEDC), the possibilities seem endless. While building its vehicle, Team Tennessee participates in community outreach events, forums, and discussions on sustainable energy. By attending a TREEDC forum at Hiwassee College, Team Tennessee has ensured connections with members of TREEDC to exemplify research in sustainable transportation, while also learning alternative ways to benefit the environment.

TREEDC consists of 92 city and county mayors throughout Tennessee along with several businesses who promote renewable energy to enhance the economy for all Tennessee communities. Warren Nevad, director of TREEDC states, “We have a very diverse group of memberships. Our foundations are 92 local governments, and then we have state agencies and a host of small businesses and about 23 colleges and universities.” This diversity makes TREEDC a prime partner for Team Tennessee, and the benefits of this partnership are mutual.

TREEDC utilizes numerous memberships and influencers to expand clean energy throughout the state with various projects, including statewide renewable energy forums and legislative outreach. Although alternative fuels and transportation is only part of TREEDC’s clean energy initiative, many Tennessee communities have benefited from these efforts. Nevad states, “We have these forums all over the state to let people know the developments in alternative fuels and the success stories. Then we help cities to look at alternative fuels as saving money for the community.” The biofuels project encompasses Team Tennessee’s mission, and through these efforts, more Tennessee communities will become acquainted with biofuels and have direct access to refueling vehicles.

TREEDC has been successful because of the many passionate members who have taken the necessary strides towards cleaner energy and more economic efficiency. Mayor James Talley of Ducktown and, the president of TREEDC, states, “I got involved in 2008 when we started TREEDC probably because of the passion we have for our community. We try to go all the way from Memphis to Mountain city and provide educational forums to the communities, local governments, colleges and the residents on what is available.” TREEDC’s desire and motivation has led many Tennessee communities and businesses to implement clean energy projects.

Former Congressman Zach Wamp also discussed the importance of STEM education with communications manager Katelynn Routh at the forum. He states, “I am an owner in a STEM curriculum company for STEM education nationwide, and it’s really amazing in middle school classrooms how our technology and curriculum can encourage mostly women, minorities and under privileged children.” This STEM curriculum builds enthusiasm for STEM education at the middle school level through hands-on activities. Team Tennessee has a similar goal to create events for middle school students which are both engaging and exciting because these students can potentially have future careers in promoting or developing clean energy.

Team Tennessee and TREEDC share a passion for clean and renewable energy which has led to a natural and beneficial partnership. Through the passion and outreach of both TREEDC and Team Tennessee, communities and businesses will see the benefits of clean energy and renewable resources with a cleaner environment, energy efficiency and sustainability.