Kana ’09 Excels in the Enviro Field – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Kana ’09 Excels in the Enviro Field

Austin Kana ’09 has recently been hired by the Department of Energy as a junior analyst for New West Technologies. Several experiences he had as an undergraduate prepared Kana for this opportunity.  Kana graduated from Hobart with a B.A. in environmental studies and public policy studies. He minored in mathematics.

In 2007, Kana impressed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) judges with his academic record and an essay about conservation efforts in the world’s coral reefs, earning him the prestigious Environmental Protection Agency Greater Research Opportunities Award. He was one of only 15 recipients nationwide.  This fellowship gave him the opportunity to spend the summer between his junior and senior years interning at an EPA facility in the Boston area.

He applied the experience he gained with the EPA to conduct an energy-efficiency audit project with the City of Geneva. The goal of his project was to increase energy efficiency of the municipal buildings in Geneva. The first step was to gauge how much energy each facility used, as well as the City’s cost of running each. He then devised ways to increase energy efficiency and to save money that potentially could be used elsewhere, such as within the city’s schools.

The results of Kana’s energy efficiency audit showed the energy performance of Geneva’s schools was very poor. Recently, City Manager Matt Horn and Director of Geneva School District Buildings and Grounds Department Tod Mervis have signed a $1.5 performance contract for public buildings that would save almost $125,000 annually in energy costs. The performance contract, which was greatly influenced by Kana’s work and findings, will benefit the City of Geneva both economically and environmentally.

“Austin’s project represents yet another successful collaboration between HWS and the City of Geneva,” says Horn. “This is most certainly what we envisioned when the community-based research program was developed. We couldn’t be any more pleased.” The community-based research program gives HWS students the ability to work directly with the Geneva community to apply what they have learned academically to make a difference.

After graduation, Kana interned at McBee Strategic Counseling, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. He worked to help support its green/clean energy clients and had the opportunity to attend congressional meetings on Capitol Hill, as well as to do research on current federal bills and federal legislation. In February, he left McBee to become a junior analyst for New West Technologies, which is a subcontractor to the Department of Energy. As a part of New West’s commercialization team, he helps make green lab technologies marketable through different tax incentives, grants and awards.

“The transition to this position from HWS has been easier than I had imagined. The work I did with the fellowship and the City of Geneva prepared me for this kind of work analyzing and presenting data, as well as public speaking,” he says. “HWS prepared me to feel comfortable and confident.”  

While at Hobart, Kana was a member and senior-year captain of the Colleges’ sailing team. He earned a number of accolades, including being one of only 20 students nationwide named to the 2008 Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association All-Academic Team. He was a member of Block H and named to the Dean’s List.