Energy University



Energy is a Pennsylvania tradition. Energy has been a top industry in the Commonwealth since colonial times and is a field where Penn State has been a leader for over a century.


Penn State is committed to advancing Pennsylvania’s global leadership in responsible and effective energy production and management. In partnership with industry, government, and community stakeholders, we are collaborating across disciplines and campuses to address the globe’s most vexing energy challenges. We already rival the best of the world’s energy universities, with leading contributions in all aspects of energy research for the future. But we need to do more.

The stakes are high: affordable, accessible, clean, safe, and abundant energy is essential for humankind to survive, thrive, and progress. To ensure our global future, we must all work together to secure our energy future.

Prospectus for Energy Research, Education and Outreach at Penn State

We will continue building on our promise to provide the research, innovation, and leadership to achieve a bright and sustainable future for the Commonwealth, nation, and world.

Read Full Prospectus

Energy University Forum #1: Concept and Current Activities

Penn State faculty, staff, and students participated in a series of forums that are focused on energy. The first forum, Energy University: Concept and Current Activities, was on Friday, Dec. 11.


  • Energy University overview.
  • Short presentations on four energy focal areas:
    • Energy Transitions
    • Developing Solution
    • Strengthening Communities
    • Advancing Literacy and Leadership
  • Panel on big ideas for Energy University.
  • Open discussion for feedback and input on Energy University.

Full Agenda



Esther Obonyo

Esther Obonyo is the Director of the Global Building Network, a partnership between the UNECE and Penn State. She is also an Associate Professor of Engineering Design and Architectural Engineering. Dr Obonyo was a 2015/ 2016 Jefferson Science Fellow placed with the USAID Global Development Lab in DC. Between August 2004 and July 2015, she was a faculty member at the University of Florida's (UF) Rinker School of Construction Management. Dr. Obonyo has extensive industry experience, having worked as a Construction Engineer, Project Manager and Innovations Analyst in several engineering and construction companies in Kenya, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Rachel Brennan

Rachel Brennan is an Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University and holds a Courtesy Appointment in Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Dr. Brennan is the Director of the Penn State Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus strategic initiative, Director of the Drawdown Scholars Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, and Chair of the Sustainability Council for the College of Engineering. In these roles, Dr. Brennan aims to unite the Penn State community with public stakeholders in the pursuit of comprehensive transdisciplinary strategies for addressing sustainability challenges at local and global scales. Her personal primary interests are in solving WEF challenges while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reversing global warming. Specifically, her research team utilizes complex ecological systems to purify water and recover nutrients from waste streams, while providing access to the fundamental human rights of water, energy, and food through the production of sustainable fertilizers, fodder, and biofuels. Dr. Brennan has a strong commitment to international education and outreach, particularly in developing countries, and recently served as a Fulbright Specialist to Colombia.

Seth Blumsack

Seth Blumsack is Professor of Energy Policy and Economics and International Affairs in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. He is also an Affiliate Faculty with the School of International Affairs and sits on the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. Dr. Blumsack directs the Center for Energy Law and Policy, and co-founded the Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy Initiative at Penn State. He has studied the electricity and natural gas industries for nearly twenty-five years, in various positions as an academic, consultant and journalist, and his research has informed policy and legal decisions at multiple state agencies, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Dr. Blumsack earned his B.A. in math and economics from Reed College, his M.S. in economics from Carnegie-Mellon and the Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie-Mellon.

Bruce Logan

Bruce Logan is an Evan Pugh University Professor and faculty in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. He is also an Associate Director of the Institutes of Energy and Environment and Director of the Consortium for Integrated Energy Systems. His research is focused on renewable energy production and the development of an energy sustainable water infrastructure, desalination, and more recently green hydrogen gas from water electrolysis. Dr. Logan is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of AAAS and several other professional organizations.

Upcoming Events

Energy University Forum #2: Energy Education

Energy Education summaries and registration coming spring semester 2021.

Energy University Forum #3: Energy Extension

Energy Extension summaries and registration coming spring semester 2021.

Energy Days

The purpose of this annual event is to identify and discuss critical regional, national, and global energy challenges and opportunities for society. Ultimately, the conference looks to create new partnerships to address key research needs and provide innovative solutions to energy challenges.

This year's Energy Days will be held virtually in May 2021. More details to follow.

Energy University News

Visit for a full news listing on Energy University.

The first in a series of energy forums on Dec. 11 will discuss how Penn State can continue to strengthen its position as an energy leader. Penn State faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in the forum.

On May 17-20, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering, in collaboration with the University of Notre Dame, will host the first Advanced Instrumentation, Diagnostics and Controls for Applications in Turbomachinery Conference at University Park.

Jacqueline O’Connor, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State, will lead the newly created Center for Gas Turbine Research, Education, and Outreach.

The National Hydrocarbon Agency of Colombia appointed Dave Yoxtheimer, assistant research professor in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and extension associate with the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, to a commission of experts tasked with providing an independent and objective analysis of shale energy development in the country.

In an effort to modernize and reimagine the United States' power grid, Penn State researchers have qualified for a highly selective, innovative competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.