For those not familiar with this award (formerly known as the Presidential Citation), the Great Dome Award is the highest honor the MIT Alumni Association bestows upon any of its organizations, given to groups in recognition of distinguished service to the Institute or the Association.
This year, MITCNC Energy & Environment Team has been recognized for “the Club’s impressive level of success on its mission – to actively inform and engage MIT alumni in a broad area of highly important topics relating to the replacement of fossil fuels for energy generation and transportation and other aspects of protecting the environment and sustaining our critical natural resources.”
Doug Spreng, the team leader, has shared with the MITCNC Blog some insight about this program.
Anna: Congrats to you and the team, Doug! What do you attribute to winning this prestigious award?
Doug: It was a total team effort. We try to identify “hot topics” that are still developing and therefore highly interesting to our audience. Our motto is “educate & engage,” which is what we do by selecting high quality speakers and panelists, focusing on innovation and providing networking opportunities at all events. We also work hard to make our events enjoyable, well-implemented and memorable for our attendees, including good food and wine.
Anna: Yes, and I see this program growing year over year—in both the breadth and depth of the content.
Doug: Right. We began with just panel discussions (2010 and earlier), then added both speakers from local energy companies and MITEI on the Road with MIT professors (2011), then added Tours to interesting energy-oriented facilities (late 2012), all tied together with common themes. Two years ago (2014) we extended our topics from exclusively Energy to include Climate Change and last year (2015) addressed the drought in California.
Anna: …and the types of audience and quality of speakers?
Doug: During this time, we have also brought in a great many non-MIT alumni in order to expand the network and to increase the scope of our audience, both in professional experience and in age group, especially younger alums.At this point, we are trying to land one or more internationally-known speakers in a mega-event. As far as I know, this is the longest-running and biggest single program in all of the MIT clubs throughout the world, which is probably why we won the award.
Anna: Looking ahead, what do you see as the direction of the Energy & Environment series that may change the world?
Doug: My fondest wish would be to fill up the Oakland Coliseum or something like that with a dynamic, influential speaker because that’s the biggest way to change the world. But realistically, I think we’re just going to have to keep putting on these programs year after year and let the cumulative effect be what does that.
Awards will be presented this year on September 23-24, 2016 at MIT during the annual Association’s Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC). Doug and some key contributors will accept this award on behalf of the team at the ALC Awards Dinner.