IVLP Alumni Spotlight features U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni as they reflect on the impact of the program and how it has affected their work and lives. Here we feature one alumnus who participated in a multi-regional project examining energy security. The participant spent three weeks in the United States exploring the roles and work of energy suppliers, technology developers, and university researchers. The program also introduced visitors to multiple sides of the energy debate including advocates for increased use of fossil fuels, renewably sourced energy, or “all of the above.”
Visitor: Dr. Firas Albadran
Title: Dean, Oil and Gas Engineering College
Country of Origin: Iraq
Itinerary: Atlanta, GA; Tulsa, OK; San Francisco, CA; Sacramento, CA
IVLP Project: Energy Security, A Multi-Regional Project, May 6 – 27, 2017
What have you been up to since your IVLP experience?
Along with the day to day teaching of students and managing the Oil and Gas Engineering College, I have been meeting with academic staff and students to exchange ideas on energy security which I believe is missing from the majority of developing countries. I am currently putting together a workshop under the title of ‘Energy Security: Comparative Study between Iraq and the USA’ for engineers of all walks of life.
What one lesson that you learned or idea that you gained on your IVLP experience have you started to apply in your organization or your work?
The lessons I have learned include that renewable energy is the future; since it’s sustainable and not only green on the environment but also towards investors. By visiting the states; I got to see first-hand the commercial application of both solar and wind farms. I was surprised to discover [in Oklahoma, for example] that 25 percent of the state’s power is generated from wind turbines! This has inspired me to pursue green energy for my own country.
I also learned that we need to treat the environment with great care and that fossil fuels should be consumed responsibly.
Finally, I learned that green energy initiatives are largely successful due to the drive by the private sector as they invest a lot of money which helps the industry to develop rapidly. Unfortunately, in the developing world, 90% of the energy is produced and distributed by their respective governments.
As the Dean of the Oil and Gas Engineering College; I have taken the initiative to introduce more topics related to energy security in hope that students will be inspired as I have.
What message would you like to share with the people who hosted and met with you in the US?
No matter where we live; we all share the same planet. I believe we have a responsibility to protect our planet against the effects of greenhouse gases for future generations to come. Although tight regulations are in place for natural gas; I believe more can be done through sharing of ideas in hope that we can do our part to reverse global warming.