President Barack Obama will visit Penn State Wednesday, but his speaking event will be invitation-only.
Obama will tour labs and an on-campus energy hub devoted to energy-efficient building solutions, according to a White House press release. He will also speak at 12:15 p.m. in Rec Hall to an invitation-only crowd about the importance of investing in innovation and clean energy, according to the release.
During his State of the Union speech last week, Obama said he would like to see 80 percent of American’s electricity coming from clean energy sources by 2035 by using solar, wind and natural gas .
At Penn State, researchers are investigating ways to create more energy-efficient building technologies, said Chimay Anumba, department head and professor of architectural engineering.
Anumba said the ideas Obama expressed in the State of the Union address are central parts of the projects Penn State researchers are working on.
“We do have an energy problem,” he said. “We need to reduce energy consumption, which is the focus on the [Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster].”
Some Penn State researchers are leading a team at the GPIC in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard. The U.S. Department of Energy gave Penn State a $122 million grant for the project, he said.
Along with the department of architectural engineering, 10 other universities are also working on the project, Anumba said.
The energy innovation hub will be a place to find new ways of building more energy-efficient buildings for the future and improving older existing buildings, said Paul Hallacher, Penn State’s director of research programs. He said the research will begin Tuesday, though the grants were awarded in August.
Some students said they’re excited Obama is visiting Penn State but disappointed the event is invitation-only.
“It’s cool that he’s getting around to see college students,” Eric Ellis (junior-electrical engineering) said. “It’s a little disappointing because I was thinking of going out to see him.”
Alyssa Harame said she would’ve tried to obtain a ticket to hear Obama speak.
“I’d like to see him speak,” Harame (junior-finance) said. “I figured not everyone could see him though.”
The Big Ten Network will stream Obama’s visit live, Penn State President Graham Spanier told some student leaders at Encampment on Sunday.
The last time Obama came to Penn State was March 2008, during the primary elections, where he spoke to a crowd of 22,000 people on Old Main lawn.
Anumba said the president’s visit is a unique moment for Penn State.
“It’s tremendous that he is coming, and this is an exciting opportunity,” he said.
Anumba said he will be delighted to interact with Obama, and it’s important for students and faculty to interact with the president as well.