It only takes a couple weeks, a slice of Chicago deep dish pizza, and an architecture boat tour before saying goodbye becomes almost unimaginable. But here we are, one week after our 8th annual Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE) officially ended. But for this post, let's consider this the start of a new post-SISE chapter for everyone, complete with new knowledge, new friends, and new experiences. For those that didn't get to join us for the crazy awesomeness that is SISE, here's a recap!


2018 Participant Breakdown


Countries Represented in 2018 Program

37 participants from around the United States - and the world! - were selected from a pool of over 100 applicants to join us from August 9-22 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Fellows from out of town were offered free lodging on campus, and many are offered partial travel scholarships so they can attend the program with minimal financial impact to them. (And, there's no program fee!)

There were more female than male Fellows (51%/49%). 62% identified as a racial minority - including Asian, African, First Nations, or mixed descent - and 14% identified as Latinx. 84% of the Fellows were in their 20s, and 81% were still enrolled in school, primarily at the graduate level. They represented 32 different majors and came from 23 different academic institutions. Check out the stats below!


2018 alumni with George Crabtree on the last day of the program!

Each image takes you to a profile of one of our awesome SISE'ers!


Gender Identity

Racial Identity

Age Range

Current Educational Level


Academic Background

Applied Mathematics
Applied Physics
Biosystems Engineering
Business Management
Chemical Engineering
City & Regional Planning
Civil Engineering
Climate Science and Solutions
Computer Science
Electrical Engineering

Energy Engineering
Energy, Trade, and Finance
Environmental Economics and Policy
Environmental Sciences
Global Sustainability
Industrial Engineering
Industrial Technology and Management
Industrial Technology and Operations
Mechanical Engineering
Nuclear Engineering

Power and Energy
Sustainability Management
Sustainable Business
Sustainable Energy
Sustainable Energy and Business Administration
Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering
Urban Planning and Policy
Urban and Regional Planning


Academic Affiliation

Alabama A&M University
Auburn University
California State University - San Marcos
City University of London
CUNY Queens College
Colorado State University
Cyprus International University
Eastern Illinois University

Georgia Institute of Technology
Illinois Institute of Technology
Iowa State University
Mount Royal University
Northern Arizona University
Oregon State University
Portland State University
Royal Institute of Technology

Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University - Kingsville
University of California - Berkeley
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of South Florida
University of Virginia



The Program

The program this year focused on community spaces - buildings, lots, homes - and considering how communities see themselves and how others see them. For two weeks, SISE'ers zipped around the UIC campus and the city of Chicago to: 

  • engage with presentations and SISE faculty, drawn from awesome Chicago-based speakers, and national and internationl groups including Student Energy and SCB Global;
  • tour Argonne National Laboratory, Boombox Chicago, the IIT Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research, and the community of North Lawndale, including Howland Elementary and the historic Central Park Theatre; 
  • network and socialize, as they did at the closing convocation sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago, and the architecture boat tour sponsored by SCB Group; and
  • tackle real-world issues facing Chicago, specifically North Lawndale, and with guidance and oversight from the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, develop unique visions for the future of the community through a competitive, team-based research project.



What We Saw

Memories of SISE 2018



Partnering Organizations


Orange Level Sponsors


Content Contributor



Project Results

On August 21, eight groups of SISE'ers provided eight unique visions for the future of North Lawndale before a panel of judges. Each vision was developed over the two weeks with the help of North Lawndale community members, mentors, and the expertise of our 2018 SISE Fellows. Each project was presented to the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for consideration and incorporation into future planning for the community. 

In the end, Group #5 ("Order of the Phoenix") took first place, Group #6 ("Belastbar") took second place, and Group 8 ("Chartreux") placed third.

(But just for the record, at SISE we're all winners.)



What They Thought

At the conclusion of each SISE program, we take a couple hours and ask participants to assess the program through a written survey, and then in a "think tank" environment where our director, George Crabtree, moderates a group discussion about the program. We pride ourselves in taking the suggestions of our participants seriously and implementing changes annually, and SISE has become what it is now after seven years of comments and surveys. While we can't divulge most of the comments on the surveys, we can share two figures that we have seen time and time again: 100% of our Fellows found SISE to be a unique experience and they would refer the program to their classmates and colleagues.

Is SISE unique?

Do you recommend SISE?


2018 Testimonials