As we celebrate our 26th year here at SERC, we are taking stock and looking toward the future. As part of this effort, we recently held our fourth all-team retreat (our prior retreats were held in 2003, 2008, and 2012). Our goals for this retreat were to review and refine SERC’s five-year strategic plan. The session was a productive one, and I was impressed by the thoughtfulness and passion of our team. I give my thanks and appreciation to everyone who participated.
Our work portfolio has grown rapidly over the past few years, and our staff and expenses have grown with it. In our strategic plan we identified three key challenges. First, we need to manage our finances carefully as we grow to ensure that we can cover our overhead costs along with our project costs. Second, we must increase the size of our team in proportion to our workload and budget; here, we should focus especially on bringing in new faculty principal investigators and project managers. Third, we need adequate space to carry out our work.
Fortunately, we are making progress in all three of these areas. We added two members to our professional staff: Jerome Carman, who will focus (at least initially) on our clean transportation work, and Greg Pfotenhauer, who works on our biomass and off-grid energy access projects. We also hired several HSU students, including Andy Eggink, Yaad Rana, Jason McMack, and Jayati Thakor. In addition, Anna Partridge, an engineering student from Smith College and a student of Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) alum Denise McKahn, is working with us over the summer. I am very pleased to welcome all of them to our team. Finally, as noted in another article, SERC and the HSU ERE department will jointly conduct a search for a faculty member with responsibilities split between the department and our Center. Applications are due on October 30 of this year. We hope that this will be the first of several new research faculty hires over the coming years.
We have taken two steps to increase our physical space. First, we are investing in an approximately 1900 ft2 expansion that will sit to the west of our existing building. This addition is scheduled to be completed by August 2016 and will have space for eight open office workstations, two enclosed offices, a meeting room, and some flexible use work space. We also recently remodeled a 200 ft2 room at SERC. In the near term, the room will house four staff and student workstations. This room will be converted to dedicated laboratory space once the expansion is complete.
In the mean time, our projects continue to keep us very busy. Happy summer solstice, and goodbye until next time.