Archive for EE

Energy & Environment Concentration Q&A

We’re just about halfway through our SIPA Concentration Webinar Series, where each Concentration Director gives an overview of their area of study, what they look for in strong SIPA candidates, and answer questions about their concentration. Professor David Sandalow and Concentration Manager Elora Ditton took the time to answer some extra questions about the Energy & Environment concentration from prospective students:

Q: Do you think the policy nature of the program would be valuable to someone who does not want to commit to only in the public sector? Are there any components of the program that address business concepts in energy and how they interact with policy?
A: Absolutely. Our graduates are equally employed by the private and public sectors. Particularly when studying energy and environment, it’s important to consider policy, business, technology and science and the interactions of these sectors. As such, our curriculum focuses on giving students a comprehensive understanding of how all the key stakeholders interact, while giving students the flexibility to cater the curriculum to their specific interests.

A handful of EE students come into the program looking for employment in the private sector, specific to energy. These students tend to take courses on financial modeling and markets related to energy, and intern at financial institutions or consulting firms.

With this said, you can’t work in energy and not know the regulatory policies that affect business decisions, and similarly, you can’t work in policy and not consider markets or the financial tools needed to fund projects/infrastructure. Considering this, though we are a policy school, many courses apply concepts from business/finance to energy issues.

Q: What are some of the career outcomes of SIPA EE graduates? Especially some of the climate policy graduates – do you see the majority of them working in NGOs, industry, finance, directly in governments, or some combination of these post-graduation?
A: A mix, particularly since we offer a broad range of courses which allows students to tweak the curriculum based on their career objectives.

For example, if a student knew they wanted to work in energy finance, we have a lot of courses specific to this (e.g. corporate finance, renewable energy project finance, international energy finance), so many of the students who go down this track end up in private sector jobs. If a student wants to focus in climate policy, we have equally the number of courses and opportunities here (e.g. climate change policy, environmental conflict resolution, environmental economics). These students might apply to be EDF fellows for an internship and may end up in local/federal government and/or NGO positions post-SIPA.

In other words, where students end up post-SIPA is largely determined by what their focus is during their time here. A benefit of SIPA EE is that we have the courses/curriculum to support a broad range of interests and outcomes. It also depends on if students are trying to stay in the U.S. or are going to work internationally (particularly for placement in government and the political landscape for climate policy).

Here are a few examples of recent employers: Rystad Energy, NYSERDA, International Finance Corporation, Connecticut Green Bank, Lazard, Bloomberg, Citibank, UNDP, The World Bank, Deloitte, Accenture, McKinsey & Company, ICF, ConEdison, GE, PG & E, EDF, the Earth Institute, the Nature Conservancy, WWF, ExxonMobil, CohnReznick Capital, Powerbridge, US DOE, USDS, and more…

Q: Hi there, can you talk about how the EE concentration would vary from the MPA-DP program? How does it break down within the MPA and MIA tracks? On a different note, I notice many policy professionals have a law degree. Please convince me that SIPA is a better option! Thanks so much!
A: The MPA-DP program is going to give you more exposure to hard sciences while EE focuses more on quantitative skills (e.g. economics, financial modeling, etc.). There will be more flexibility to fine-tune the curriculum to your interests in the MIA/MPA track whereas the DP curriculum is pretty set.

MIA/MPA gives you tools to design, incentivize, implement, and assess policies so you have more flexibility in application of the degree over a law degree, which is going to give you a very specific skill set. It really depends on your career goals and what you think makes the most sense for you.

Also, you can take law classes as a SIPA student! Environmental Law, for example, counts towards our EE policy requirement.

Q: Can you talk about SIPA Energy and Environment concentration as it relates specifically to energy in international development?
A: SIPA in general offers many courses in international economic and political development, and in EE, you will consider sustainability and other geopolitical and security issues related to energy and the environment.

Q: Is it difficult to catch up in SIPA for the Science and engineering part? I have not been exposed to professional undergraduate environment and energy knowledge.
A: Nope! We have many career switchers where this is their first exposure to energy and/or environment. Our classes are designed to give you the basic technical and topical foundation to address energy and environment with a policy and/or business application. With that said, since we are a policy school, though some of our courses expose you to science and technology, none of our courses are solely in the hard sciences or engineering (though you have access to these types of courses through the other schools at Columbia).

Two Admissions reminders for you Fall 2019 applicants:

1. It’s less than a month until the January 5th application deadline, and we have a few more admissions information sessions before then:

2. For those who want to hear straight from the Concentration Directors, here are the final webinars coming up:

Columbia University Wins at 2014 US Department of Energy Better Buildings Case Challenge

Columbia’s Team Wins “Most Innovative Solution” for First Ever BBCC Solar Case.

On March 14, the US Department of Energy (DOE) hosted the 3rd annual Better Buildings Case Challenge (BBCC), an initiative to engage talent across undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels to address some of the nation’s most pressing energy dilemmas related to buildings.  The 2014 competition attracted 44 teams from 27 schools, up from 18 in 2013.

In October, students from Columbia’s International Affairs, Engineering, Business, and Sustainability Management graduate programs applied to fill ten spots to compete on two of six cases for the 2014 BBCC.

After months of preparation, written case reports were submitted weeks ahead of the final competition.  Presentations of case solutions were held at DOE headquarters in Washington, DC, and judged by industry professionals with expertise relating to each case.  Awards were given in two categories – Most Replicable Solution, and Most Innovative Solution.

This was the first year a solar case was given.  The challenge was to present a strategy for an investor owned utility to meet an 18% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with a 4% solar energy carve-out by 2023.  Columbia’s team won the Most Innovative Solution award.  Their solution proposed a new rate structure model that resembled a hybrid of two current approaches, time-of-use and real-time pricing.

Congratulations to the winners!

In need of a retreat?

Each year, at the beginning of the fall semester, is what we here at SIPA like to call “retreat season”. Each concentration and specialization organizes a weekend-long retreat for students throughout the month of September. The retreat is an opportunity for first and second year students to get better acquainted in a fun and engaging environment. Students are able to share experiences and knowledge, such as the “do’s and don’ts” of SIPA student and academic life. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for students to get to know faculty members and professors in a less formal way.


International Finance and Economic Policy (IFEP) Retreat

Over 80 IFEP students attended the annual retreat in September held at Camp Kinder Ring in Hopewell Junction, New York. After traveling for two hours by bus, students arrived and had lunch together. Shortly after, Professor Richard Goldberg led an interactive discussion about the financial crisis with students. Professor Andrea Bubula, the IFEP Executive Director, also attended the retreat and gave students an overview of the concentration and its competitive advantages in the current job market. The rest of the afternoon was spent with students playing tennis and basketball at the camp. In the evening students enjoyed dinner followed by a dance party. Despite the near freezing temperatures, students enjoyed this opportunity to get to know each other and learn more about the IFEP concentration.

Energy and Environment (EE) Retreat

On the 28th of September, the EE concentration had its yearly retreat in the wonderful Kinder Camp as well. This was a great chance to escape from the city and enjoy a nice autumn landscape, lake included, but also a fantastic opportunity to get to know the new members of our SIPA community beyond the Columbia campus. There were several fun outdoor activities including the hilarious build and the what’s your shoe size/eye color grouping game. At one point, even some brave Seeples dived into the lake! The trip couldn’t be complete without a bonfire and s’mores, which of course quickly turned into a party that many will remember for the musical variety (yes, someone played reggaeton).

International Conflict Resolution (ICR) Retreat

The International Conflict Resolution retreat brought together 25 SIPA students as well as faculty and guest speakers for a weekend of inspiration and recreation. Saltzman Professor of Professional Practice and International Conflict Resolution specialization director Jean-Marie Guéhenno kicked off discussion on Syria, supported by adjunct faculty member Richard Gowan. Guest speakers David Haeri (MIA, 1997) and Sarah Cliffe (MIA, 1996), both senior United Nations officials in New York, shared insights on the field of conflict resolution and inspired students with their personal stories and experiences. The retreat closed with a conflict type exercise, where students assessed their personal approach to conflict using role play to demonstrate reactions under a variety of scenarios, both calm and stressful. In addition to some self-discovery, canoeing, and a lakeside bonfire, students left the retreat with new friendships and some intellectual stimulation to help them embark upon the new semester.

















Interview with SIPA MIA candidate, Henry Fernandez

Henry_Fernandez_PhotoName: Henry Fernandez
Degree: MIA
Concentration: Energy and Environment
Specialization: Management

Brief Background: I studied Political Science at Binghamton University and I am currently pursuing a Masters in International Affairs. Before joining SIPA, I worked as an International Program Manager for Columbia University’s Environmentally Socially Sustainable Economic Growth Program in rural Dominican Republic. Our program partnered with the Presidential Commission on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to reverse trends of resource degradation and economic depression.

What attracted you to SIPA? Energy! Before coming to SIPA I knew I wanted to work in the energy space. When applying to graduate schools it was important to choose a program that would give me the quantitative tools and policy analysis skills required to tackle the global energy challenges we face. SIPA’s Energy and Environment program offered the right combination of financial skills and policy tools that I consider important for understanding the global energy landscape. I also knew that being in New York would give me access to a wide range of professionals and industry insiders that visit the city and drop by Columbia’s campus to interact with students. This is unique to Columbia!

What experiences do you think prepared you at attend SIPA? Work experience! While working in international development I learned how to adapt to different situations. Adaptability is an important skill to possess as a graduate student. As most things in life, graduate school is about making adjustments and sometimes working outside your comfort zone. SIPA students may be required to take classes that are not of interest to them or may be assigned to work with people that have different world views or possess different work styles. Adaptability enables students to get the most of out of their graduate school experience and teaches invaluable life lessons.

What kind of work do you hope to do when you graduate? Upon graduation I intend to work in the energy sector. My goal is join a company’s strategic planning or business development department and work on crafting business strategies that contribute to the company’s financial growth.

What has been the best part of your SIPA experience? The best part of being a SIPA student is the access we have to world-class professors. Being able to sit in a classroom and engage in dialogue with the world’s experts is one of SIPA’s strongest assets. Professors at SIPA are committed to training tomorrow’s leaders and are always willing to offer professional guidance inside and outside the classroom. For example, this summer I was working on a project and needed some direction. I emailed one of my professors –who was in a different part of the world- and managed to schedule a call to discuss the challenges I was facing. That kind of commitment from one of the industry’s most respected practitioners makes a big difference in your graduate experience.


who’s on deck?

As sad as we are to see our PA’s (program assistants) graduate and leave us, we are thrilled to have new second years join our team.  If you continue to follow the Admissions Blog, you’ll get to know them over the next few months through their posts and of course, if you contact the Admissions Office, you may also get a response from one or two of them.

We asked them to share a little something about themselves with you…

Maricarmen, MPA ISP:  From Mexico.  Worked in Washington, DC for 3 years and currently researching Illegal Logging in Kosovo. I love running and burgers! (I am obsessed.) Currently reading “The Sound of Things Falling” Juan Gabriel Vasquez (Spanish version)

Danielle, MPA USP: Really interested in political journalism, worked at the New York County District Attorney’s Office before SIPA, native New Yorker, news junkie, Japanese food connoisseur

Henry, MIA EE: From New York City and the Dominican Republic. Worked in development before joining SIPA.  Now focusing on domestic energy issues

Eder, MPA USP:  I’m in Ecuador for the summer – it’s great! I’ve worked on the undocumented student campaign aimed at immigration reform. Enjoy reading up on politics, social movements and love Korean food! Looking forward to working with you all!

Ashley, MIA HRHP:  I’ll try anything twice.

Giuliana, MPA EPD:  Just came back from Rio de Janeiro and completely loved it! I’m passionate about meeting new people and experiencing new cultures (and yes, sometimes I talk too much). I like to run, also practice yoga and I am a frustrated poet, it is one of my passions.

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

Boiler Image