It only takes a couple weeks, a slice of Chicago deep dish pizza, and a few weekends watching Game of Thrones before saying goodbye becomes almost unimaginable. But here we are, one week after our 7th 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!


2017 Participant Breakdown

Countries represented at 2017!

40 participants from around the United States - and the world! - were selected from a pool of 120 applicants to join us from August 3-16 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. SISE'ers are all offered free lodging with us 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!)

Participants were split evenly among male and female (50%/50%). 48% identified as a racial minority - including Asian, African, or mixed descent - and 10% identified as Latinx. Over 1/3 of the program was in their 20s, and 92% were still enrolled in school, primarily at the graduate level. They represented 34 different majors and came from 23 different academic institutions. Check out the stats below!


2017 alumni with George Crabtree at the annual convocation.

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


Academic Background

Urban Planning
Urban and Regional Planning
Transportation Planning and Systems
Transportation Engineering
Sustainable Environmental Design
Sustainable Energy
Political Science
Mechanical Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering

International Studies, Business
Industrial Engineering
Global Sustainability
Geography and Environmental Studies
Environmental Science - Sustainability
Environmental Health Science
Environmental Engineering
Engineering Management
Energy Systems
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Economics, International Relations
Diplomacy, International Relations
Data Science
Community Planning
Civil Systems
Civil Engineering
Chemical Engineering
Business Economics
Business Administration
Biology, Sustainable Energy


Academic Affiliation

Arizona State University
Azusa Pacific University
DePaul University
East Illinois University
Florida State University
Goshen College
Illinois Institute of Technology
Marshall University

Michigan State University
Northeastern Illinois University
Northeastern University
Seton Hall University
Syracuse University
University of Arkansas
University of Chicago
University of Maryland

University of Minnesota
University of Michigan
University of Virginia
University of South Florida
University of Virginia
University of California - Los Angeles
University of Illinois at Chicago



The Program

The program this year focused on transportation, specifically the theme of mobility. 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 (but locally based) brands like Lyft;
  • tour Argonne National Laboratory, UI LABS, SiNode Systems labs, Coalition: Energy, the IIT Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research, the community of North Lawndale, the UIC Urban Transportation Center, and the UIC Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies;
  • mentor the next generation of green and sustainably-minded young people through an ongoing collaboration with the YMCA Metro Green Creation Crew; 
  • network and socialize, as they did at the opening reception sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago, Smart Grid Cluster, and Energy Foundry; and the annual closing convocation at the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier; 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

Photo Gallery


What They Saw

Photo Gallery



Partnering Organizations

Orange Level Sponsors


Program Sponsors

Content Contributor



Project Results

On August 16, 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 2017 SISE crew. 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 #4 ("The Chosen Ones") took first place, Group #2 ("Route 66") and #8 ("Woke Lion") tied for second place, and Group $5 ("Black Alley Cats") placed third... even though, 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: our participants found SISE to be a unique experience and they would overwhelmingly refer the program to their classmates and colleagues.


2017 Testimonials