Education at the Global CO2 Initiative builds a new workforce through courses, student (team) projects, and student research projects. Education at the Global CO2 Initiative also includes outreach to the general public, and policy and decision makers at the local, national, and international level.
The Global CO2 Initiative draws from teaching expertise across the University of Michigan’s campus, from A(rtsEngine) to Z(oology).
Innovation for Impact: Climate Change is a Company-in Residence program for emerging companies making a significant impact on the carbon balance of the planet. The program is an immersive learning experience for students as they work side by side with the companies on the deployment and market development of their breakthrough innovations.
Innovation for Impact: Climate Change pairs emerging and scaling startups with top-tier undergraduate students studying a wide range of fields including computer science, data analytics, chemical engineering, material science, robotics, business, and sustainability.
The goal is to educate students through an immersive project that tackles an important problem for the company. Students learn the entrepreneurial process directly from the principles of the company using the company itself as the “living case study.” Learn more about Innovation for Impact: Climate Change.
Courses, offered by Global CO2 Initiative faculty include engineering, entrepreneurial and business, and environmental and sustainability topics.
Gwen Gell (Master of Urban and Regional Planning Student, Master of Urban Design, 2019)
Gwen investigated Southeast Michigan’s Carbon Emissions to study the evolution and progress towards the State of Michigan’s goal of reducing its carbon emissions. The State of Michigan is continuing to make strides towards its goal, set in 2009, to reduce carbon emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 by 2050.
Letter from “O,” a middle school student in New England.
Dear Dr. Sick,
My name is “O” and I am a middle school student in New England. I am writing as part of an assignment in which we have to read a current events article about science and then write to the scientist having led that research. Thank you in advance for answering my questions.
I read about your work on carbon capture and utilisation in the article “Making Carbon Capture Fashionable” in a recent issue of Science News. Your developments in the field of nuclear science impress me, such as you being able to generate massive amounts of heat with common elements. It gives me a sliver of hope to know that there are people out there like you, trying their best to make the world a better place.
I read that you believe that capping oil wells and making plastics from carbons found above the surface is a good idea to reduce pollution. However, what differences, if any, are there between the carbons above and below ground?
Reading further on in the article, I saw that you plan to make these new plastics much more durable and easily decomposable into nature. I find it intriguing that our plastics today, at least those which I have seen, are nowhere close to your description of their ideal form. It’s also very cool how carbon dioxide can be extracted from the air, and how you liquidise it in order to transport it more efficiently by compressing it.
However, one fact escapes me. Do you have a plan that will help us humans generate materials friendlier to the environment by using already existing waste plastics? I think that if you could achieve this, it would be one great step towards a clean future.
Thank you very much for reading my message to you, and, if possible, I would love to hear your answers to my questions. Thank you very much for your time.
How nice to hear from you!
I am happy to read that you are looking into science issues with so much interest, curiosity, and care.
Let me answer your questions below, though I will need to pass on the nuclear energy one because I am not working on that.
Carbon, whether newly taken out of the ground or recycled from CO2 is the same chemical substance and behaves exactly the same way. However, the difference comes in when we look at what happens with the carbon substance after use. If it was made with coal or petroleum and decomposes or gets burned, it turns into CO2 and that goes into the atmosphere to increase global warming even more. If we take the carbon we need from CO2, we do not add any new CO2 to the atmosphere, even if the carbon products decompose. The CO2 is recycled.
The whole purpose of our work is to help humans by reducing CO2 in the air and by providing carbon products that we must have.
Plastics can be recycled and engineers develop better and better methods to do that. But the amount of plastic that is needed grows and will grow for quite some time. Think about how many billion people do not even have access to what we consider basic needs. Their health and well-being will also depend, for example, on having access to plastic products, in particular for medical use and shelter (insulation for heat or cold).
All the best for your future and I hope to eventually read about your own science work in a newspaper!