Unveiling an Inspiration – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Unveiling an Inspiration

In the midst of a campus-wide Earth Week festival on Smith Green, seniors Greg Dlubac and Jacob Podkaminer unveiled a seemingly unremarkable green truck amid live music and various eco-friendly activities. Anything but unremarkable, the truck was actually part of the festivities, an entirely electric-powered truck that they had been working on since September 2007. Dlubac and Podkaminer are classmates, friends and fellow Kappa Alpha Society members who have worked together on reducing campus fuel emissions by turning a gas-guzzling truck into a clean, electric-powered vehicle. Their work, funded by an independent research grant and the HWS environmental studies program, began following a showing of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” in Associate Professor of Economics Tom Drennen’s environmental economics course last spring. “I remember challenging anyone from my class who was interested to try to make this happen,” recalled Drennen. This challenge, along with the climate crisis and the nation’s crippling addiction to fossil fuels, gave Dlubac cause to start making some changes. Both Dlubac and Podkaminer had general background knowledge and skills in mechanics and automobile technology, but the majority of their instruction came in a guideline kit from Electric Vehicles of America. Learning the technical skills and pragmatics of the conversion along the way, Dlubac and Podkaminer were driven by their deep interest in contributing to HWS’ sustainability initiatives. They sought both to prove that we need not rely on foreign oil and pollute the environment and to actualize an eco-friendly vehicle that would complement green efforts. “We want to show HWS and the Geneva community that they don’t have to rely on petroleum as an energy source for their cars,” commented Dlubac. “Not only are we facing a climate crisis, but we are addicted to fossil fuels,” said Drennen. “The U.S. consumes about 25 percent of the world’s oil with less than five percent of the population – we have to wean ourselves off oil, and we should be exploring as many options as possible.” By having an electric vehicle on campus, students, faculty and staff are provided an important learning tool and an opportunity to think about the various options we have for meeting energy needs. “This is important for HWS because with minimal funding and knowledge, we were able to produce a realistic solution to the emissions and oil dependency problems,” said Podkaminer. “A college campus is the perfect place to exhibit and actualize a solution like this.” The truck, painted green and to be decorated with decals highlighting its energy source, is set to be put into action by the Buildings and Grounds Department over the summer. “I hope this inspires other sustainability initiatives and leads the way for more funding for similar projects,” said Dlubac. “I’m so excited by what they’ve accomplished– it makes me very proud that we found a way to make this happen,” reflected Drennen. “It motivates me to push other students to come up with exciting projects that will enhance and showcase our campus and the type of students that are here. This shows that we care about the environment and we’re going to hopefully make some big changes around here.”