In January 2021 The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) partnered with the University of Notre Dame Energy Studies Minor to provide community based experiences for their students. Nine students self-selected to participate in this opportunity, five of which worked with CCI Associate Director of Research, Danielle Wood on projects related to tree canopy coverage and cooling. Another four students worked with the City of South Bend Assistant City Engineer, Jacob Klosinski, and City of South Bend Director of Facilities Management, Adam Parsons, on a project related to energy conservation in public spaces.
Notre Dame Undergraduate Students Michael Chmura (Economics ‘22), Akin Adegoke, (Mechanical Engineering ‘21), Olivia Burke (Environmental Engineering ‘23), and Patricia Salazar (Civil Engineering ‘23) worked under the supervision of CCI Internship Program Manager - South Bend, Lauren Lounsbury, to conduct an Energy Audit at South Bend Fire Station #10. This project consisted of multiple meetings with city partners, analysis of past energy bills, a visit and tour of the fire station, and a written report the students then presented to the community partners and the South Bend Fire Chief. “The most important component of the Energy Studies Minor is for the students to immerse themselves in real-life energy experiences. ND Energy's partnership with CCI is ideal because it allows students to give back to South Bend while gaining valuable hands-on skills. Learning to do energy audits is helpful, but meeting with firefighters and observing the ins and outs of city government adds immeasurable enhancements to the experience”, says ND Energy Education and Outreach Associate Program Director, Anne Pillai, who recruited the students and offered them guidance during their experience.
This project was not only a learning opportunity for students but also a beneficial collaboration for the community partners.“The intern team from Notre Dame did a fantastic job with the energy audit of Fire Station 10. Everyone was impressed with their ability to assimilate real world information and create a thorough and actionable report.”, says City of South Bend Director of Facilities Management, Adam Parsons.
In addition to working on focused projects, interns also received resources and training in design thinking, project management, and community engagement, similar to the training that is given during the CCI summer internship program. This collaboration allowed students who are interested in community and civic engagement but are not available for a full time summer internship to participate in a project-based, community-engaged learning experience. “There are many students I meet during the recruiting process who would love to participate in the summer internship program, but are unable due to summer availability. This collaboration with ND Energy helps to afford those students a different opportunity to have a community engagement experience,” says CCI Internship Program Manager - South Bend, Lauren Lounsbury.
Due to the pilot’s success, CCI and ND Energy will continue partnering with the City of South Bend to offer students opportunities to participate in the energy audit process each semester, pending City needs.