By Peggy Mullin (B.S. Environment and Ecology ’19)
Greg Gangi, who formerly served as the UNC Institute for the Environment’s associate director for education, is taking on a new role as associate director for clean technology and innovation. As the head of the program, Gangi hopes to foster new connections between students and clean tech leaders, opening up new pathways for future success.
“We are extremely excited for Dr. Gangi to take on this new role that reflects his commitment to expanding his excellent work in the clean technology space,” said Mike Piehler, director of the UNC Institute for the Environment and professor of Marine Sciences and Environmental Sciences and Engineering. “He is a tremendous asset for the environmental community at Carolina, and we look forward to seeing where this new appointment takes his work.”
The fledgling program is an extension of many years of success with the UNC Clean Tech Summit, a two-day campus networking event for students, clean technology companies and policymakers. The annual spring event has paved the way for countless student internship and job offers since it was launched five years ago.
“We’ve been doing the Clean Tech Summit for a while,” Gangi said. “It’s shown that there is a significant interest among students to get involved in the clean technology sector and to interact more with the private sector. And companies, in turn, are interested in connecting with talent.”
In his new role, Gangi also hopes to foster new connections between industry leaders and university officials. He plans to develop an advisory board to strengthen UNC’s contributions to the clean tech sector and explore the development of a “clean technology corridor” between Charlotte, NC and Research Triangle Park.
“I think universities can do a lot more to tap into economic development,” says Gangi. “Clean technology, and the ways in which UNC is looking to integrate clean technology into our curriculum, can serve as a template for other universities searching for the same kind of innovation.”
Gangi’s appointment is timely, as UNC’s Environment, Ecology and Energy Program (E3P) in the College of Arts and Sciences was announced last summer. The program aims to strengthen the experience of UNC environmental students by connecting them with industry professionals in their fields of interest.
The sixth annual UNC Clean Tech Summit is slated for Feb. 28 – Mar. 1 at UNC’s Friday Center. This year, the Summit will feature its first-ever career fair, an add-on Gangi has dreamed of including for years. He believes that students who are passionate about their interests provide a unique opportunity for employers.
“Students would rather work on solutions than just study the problems,” he said. “We want to help them with that, to show them these amazing careers that make a real difference in the world.”
Through encouraging student interest in the clean technology sector, Gangi hopes to bolster the movement towards a more sustainable economy.
“One of the goals is to end the either-or debate, to stop choosing between jobs and a sustainable future,” he said. “You really need to be doing both; sustainability requires protecting the environment while also creating jobs that young people want. That’s where we’re headed, and that’s what we hope to accomplish.”