The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2017, which is Women’s History Month.
As part of the series we interviewed Alison Hoxie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering with Swenson College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?
Alison Hoxie: I work in the area of renewable technologies at Swenson College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota Duluth. I am currently working on a small vertical axis wind turbine that has an innovative magnetic drive, a solar plus storage project at a local nature center and an atomizer I developed with some colleagues that improves the combustion characteristics of heavy bio-oils.
How did you get into this work?
Alison Hoxie: I have always been passionate about the environment. I love the outdoors. When I was an undergrad in mechanical engineering I took a class called Thermodynamics. It is all about energy- how we create electricity, how we use it and how it is converted and conserved. That is when I realized I was in the right profession and that I could work as an engineer on the issues I’m passionate about.
What is a typical day like for you?
Alison Hoxie: The beauty of being a professor of mechanical engineering is that every day is different. Most days I teach, I write, I work in my lab and talk with my students who assist me in my research. There is some travel involved with my job, for instance going to conferences to report on my research and learn what others are doing. I’m currently getting ready to go to the west coast to look at microgrids that have large battery storage systems. I’m also going to Germany this summer to learn about installing renewable energy and storage at the community level.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Alison Hoxie: The best part of my job is the people I work with! I love the students and their enthusiasm and I have amazing colleagues! Duluth really attracts great people! The worst part of my job is writing. I tell my students all the time that I partly went into engineering because I didn’t like to write. Now I spend a good portion of my time writing!
What about your job inspires you?
Alison Hoxie: The ability to affect change. I want to be a part of helping the region and the state transition off of fossil based fuels. It is really inspiring when I see students get excited about energy and also when I see some of the work we are doing bubble up elsewhere in the community.
What advice do you have for women who are thinking about working in energy?
Alison Hoxie: It’s the place to be! There are so many talented, smart and energetic women working in energy and sustainability right now. I would say, “don’t be afraid to reach out to woman that you know or have heard of and ask them to be a mentor.” I think we all are so excited to share what we know and to help the next group of young women become leaders in energy.
Alison Hoxie, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Dr. Alison Hoxie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at UMD. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2007. Her research focuses on renewable energy demonstration projects as well as, fundamental fluid mechanics and reacting systems. She currently has projects on wind energy, solar plus storage and atomization. She also works to improve the combustion characteristics of biofuels as well as increase their cost effectiveness.
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The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries during Women’s History Month.