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What's Up in the Environment?

My field   My work has focused on the development of alternative energy sources -- particularly solar and geothermal energy technologies. Developing energy sources -- like solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal -- requires that a wide range of scientists and engineers from fields such as biology, chemistry, and physics work together.

My job   I have worked in renewable energy research for about 25 years and am the current Chairman of the American Solar Energy Society (2000-2001). I am a research engineer at NREL in Golden, Colorado. Over the years, I have done research on a number of solar energy technologies. Right now, I am focussing on ways to improve geothermal power plants that use hot water from underground to produce electricity.

   I have always been interested in science and engineering. In 1973, the oil embargo and the long lines at gas stations made me realize how much the U.S.A. depends on foreign oil. How could I make a difference in Americans' energy use? I decided to focus my career on developing alternative energy sources to oil, like solar and geothermal, that could eventually replace fossil fuels.

   Many large geothermal power plants and a few small ones provide power to various U.S. communities. NREL's current research will help us develop power plants that are more cost-effective. Small plants could provide electricity and heat to small villages in developing nations.

Chuck Kutscher:    
7:00 AM Eat breakfast.

8:00 AM Check e-mails.

8:30 AM Work on geothermal team activities; advise student intern.

9:30 AM Check with vendor making prototypes of our new heat exchanger design.

10:00 AM Participate in conference call for American Solar Energy Society.

11:00 AM Do administrative activities.

12:00 PM Eat lunch.

1:00 PM Work on analysis, technical reports, and papers.

3:00 PM Check on progress of small-scale geothermal power plants being built in Utah and Nevada.

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM Go out to lab to check progress on experiments.

If you are interested in doing research, I recommend you concentrate on math and science in high school. In college, I think it's generally best to major in a well-recognized traditional field like physics, biology, chemistry, mechanical engineering, etc. because with a traditional degree you have more flexibility to change specialties.

For more details about my career path, look through my resume. (pdf file)
Learn more about the topic of ENERGY
Go to the Class Project Chuck Kutscher designed
Check out the other mentors whose careers are related to ENERGY: Ken Manning, Carey Crane and Chandler Van Voorhis
Check out ENERGY Resources

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