The EE Practicum, formally known as the Global Collaboratory, hosted by the Energy and Environment concentration at SIPA, is a curricular enhancement designed to empower students as they define their career trajectories, expand their professional networks, and build their experience in the global energy and environment field. Student-led teams receive financial support and expert guidance while designing and implementing their projects. 

EE Practicum fieldwork projects have the following key objectives:

  • Build sector experience. Projects focus on current, cutting edge issues in the energy and environment sectors to help students gain hands-on experience working in the field.
  • Expand professional networks. Working with sector leaders to implement projects builds relationships that can be used to define goals and create post-graduate employment opportunities.
  • Train global leaders. Students are challenged to design a project, build partnerships, and deliver results for an energy and/or environment issue in a global context.
  • Have an impact. Energy and environment are some of the defining issues of our times. This is an opportunity to engage with local communities and make a difference.


The next round of proposals will open September 2021. 

The Energy and Environment Practicum is made possible by generous financial contributions from Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy and The Earth Institute

Current Projects


The word Alfajiri, Swahili for dawn, embodies the vision that the team has of exploring new ways to look at the investments in energy access for forcibly displaced communities. The project aims to examine energy access programs and initiatives in refugee settlements and their host communities and propose potential optimal interventions for the Smart Communities Coalition (SCC). SCC, co-chaired by Power Africa coordinated by USAID and Mastercard is a coalition of public and private partners that seek to improve the delivery of essential services to forcibly displaced individuals and host community members through energy, connectivity, and digital tools. The team will analyze various energy access projects in refugee settlements across Africa, identify gaps, opportunities, and best practices emanating from historical interventions, and develop a robust strategic framework for assessing different market-oriented approaches deployed. The final output will be a White Paper for SCC that can be used to inform the design and implementation of future funding initiatives to promote sustainable private-sector driven solutions.

Team: Andres Moncada, Luna Ruiz, Marcelle Meyer, Rishika Surya, and Wangeci Wanyahoro

Amazon Fires

It is known that exposure to the pollutants found in smoke plumes of burning biomass is associated with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The Amazon Fires project aims to quantify the effect of pollutants generated by fires in the Amazon Rainforest on health in regions of Brazil more remote than those as of yet investigated. Once pollutants from fires in the Amazon are released into the atmosphere, they may be carried by wind to densely populated areas in the south and southeast of Brazil where as many as 130 million people could be affected. A quantification of this effect can be accomplished with data on the location of fires, a transport model to determine the trajectory of smoke produced by these fires, concentration values of pollutants, and regional data on hospitalizations. Use of the transport model would allow for the identification of pollution released from the fires as the cause of any observed negative health effects. 

Team: Akiva Rube, Guilherme Jardim, and Julio Barros

Highlighted Past Projects

ETaxi NYC 

ETaxi NYC aims at facilitating the process of electrifying taxicabs in New York City. The team hopes to support the city to replace all its vehicles in the taxi fleet with Electric Vehicles by 2050, supported by sophisticated infrastructure, market systems and financial resources. The team will identify opportunities and challenges from technology development, infrastructure construction, policy regulations and stakeholder’s willingness. The output of this project will include a field research in New York City and a case study in Shenzhen, China analyzing successes and failures during their processes of taxi electrification, focusing especially on the policy aspect. Finally, E-Taxi NYC will design a feasible strategic plan for implementing taxi electrification in New York City, based on status quo in NYC and experience from other cities or countries.

Team: Zehua Guan, Zora Qixin Xiang, Beiwen Shen, Xuechun Bao, Bojun Chen

California V2G

Integrating high amounts of renewable energy into the electric grid necessitates significant energy storage resources. Together with California’s Vehicle-Grid Integration Initiative, the Vehicle to Grid (V2G) Project provides policy pathways for using California’s electric vehicles as grid-scale energy storage.

Team: Francisco Galtieri, Alejandro Neira, Dan Propp, Claudio Protano

EmPower Bidibidi

EmPower Bidibidi aims to assess whether the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) solar model can be used to provide a sustainable and gender equitable source of clean energy in humanitarian settings. The team plans to do this by evaluating Mercy Corp’s Access to Modern Energy in Humanitarian Settings (AMPERE)’s pilot in Bidibidi Refugee Camp in Northern Uganda. The team will be traveling to Yumbe, Uganda to collect data, conduct survey research, and meet with local stakeholders. The final goal is to provide scalable best practices that can then be leveraged as solutions for refugee camps in other regions of the world. 

Team: Aditi Bansal, Angelo Benny Bertagnini IV, Chandni Sinha Das, Faiza Haq, Tenzin Dawa Thargay


Atlanta Rising 

Recognising the risk that climate change poses to its community at large, the City of Atlanta is setting out to reduce its contribution to the problem of climate change and to mitigate its current and future effects. Flood risk, infrastructure collapse, clean water scarcity and droughts, and worsening air quality, are just a few of the vulnerabilities that the city faces. Together with the Mayor’s Office of Resilience for the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Rising aims to assess and identify ambitious yet practical resilience improvements that are most relevant to the city’s unique geography.

Team: Yu Ann Tan, Ethan Tsai, Robert Paton, Haeun Kim, Rishi Chakraborty, Nobuhiro Arai

EVery City

EVery City aims to chart a path for the future of urban transit buses in New York City in order to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) achieve its stated goal to electrify the more than 5,700 buses operating in NYC by 2040. The team will engage stakeholders across city and state government agencies, electric utilities, and the private sector to support NYC as it seeks to transform and decarbonize its transit bus system. The output of this project will include policy, financial, operational, and technology recommendations for transit bus and charging infrastructure deployment that will benefit NYC, and assist other cities electrify their transit bus fleets. 

Team: Lauren Kastner, Michael Woods, Andrew Catania, and Eugene Tseng

Sustainable Cooling

The Sustainable Cooling project aims to: 1) Understand the current coping strategies for heat adaptation in local communities in Dhaka, Bangladesh and 2) Assess whether cool roofs are an appropriate sustainable cooling strategy that would aid in mitigating rising temperatures due to climate change and rapid urbanization.

Team: Catalina Demidchuk, Molly R. Blessing, Jaclyn W. L. Eng, Grace Cushman, Luz Gil, and Daniela G. Santoyo


Post-Maria Puerto Rico (Left to right: Lara Younes, Rodrigo Inurreta Acero, Rodrigo Paz y Rocha, Alejandro Valdez, David Antonio Maravilla Flores, Eskedar Bahru Gessesse. Not pictured: Rashide Assad Atala)

Post-María Puerto Rico

The team will create a platform for cooperation among key federal and local stakeholders and international public and private electricity pioneers to facilitate the scaled-up implementation of solar microgrids as an alternative electricity supply option in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The vision of the project is to advance a long-term electricity supply effort driven by “locals for locals,” an approach that can be replicated in other parts of Puerto Rico and other islands.

PDF iconPost-María Puerto Rico: Final Report

Team: Lara Younes, Rodrigo Inurreta Acero, Rodrigo Paz y Rocha, Alejandro Valdez, David Antonio Maravilla Flores, Eskedar Bahru Gessesse, and Rashide Assad Atala

Sol Team Six (Left to right: Alicia Gorecki, Simone Kramer, Scott Belding, Kirsten Holland)

Sol Team Six: PV Preparedness

In response to increasingly severe hurricanes in the Caribbean, Sol Team Six’s goal is to assess a means of utilizing pico solar products to prepare disaster-vulnerable communities in the Dominican Republic for energy challenges posed by future hurricanes and subsequent grid destruction, focusing on immediate post-disaster needs of lighting and communication. Their pilot project will connect local, regional, and national actors through a series of university-based workshops to engage local communities in solar technologies, and stakeholder convenings to develop a resilient and proactive strategy for further incorporating and purchasing these products locally in the future. 

Team: Alicia Gorecki, Simone Kramer, Scott Belding, and Kirsten Holland

PDF iconPV Preparedness: Applying small scale solar solutions to disaster planning in the Caribbean

Reimagining Grid Solution (Left to right: Giovanni Emmanuel Pagan, Mac Farrell, Astha Ummat, Lindsay Cherry, Jeff Lepley)

Reimagining Grid Solutions

The National Institute of Energy and Island Sustainability (INESI) has invited our team to author a chapter of the 2017 State of Energy Report, co-published with The State Office of Public Energy Policy (OEPPE) of Puerto Rico. The chapter explores the regulatory, policy and financial barriers and drivers of microgrid development in Puerto Rico. We also examine existing microgrids on the U.S. mainland in order to provide case studies of successful microgrid applications or innovative microgrid models.

Team: Giovanni Emmanuel Pagan, Mac Farrell, Astha Ummat, Lindsay Cherry, and Jeff Lepley

PDF iconReimagining Grid Solutions: A Better Way Forward

Solar Tan(Sun)ia (Left to right: Will Han Xia, Even Kvelland, Alberto Morales, Hiroyuki Yamagata, Benjamin Gionet)

Solar Tan(Sun)ia

Solar Tan(Sun)ia's goal is to develop a survey study with stakeholders from Tanzania (schools' administrators, Rural Energy Agency, Ministry of Education as well as Multilaterals and NGOs) to lay the ground for a potential Randomized Control Trial study. They intend to identify the main challenges to finance solar products (exploring public budget allocations dynamics) and perceived direct benefits and externalities from having solar panels in rural schools. With the final insights from the project they expect to present initial policy recommendations and outline of implementation plan to scale the electrification for rural schools.

Team: Will Han Xia, Even Kvelland, Alberto Morales, Hiroyuki Yamagata, and Benjamin Gionet

FileTan(Sun)ia: Final Report

Rapid Solar Solutions for Rural Electrification in Western China

In January of 2015, a team of students traveled to China to study best practices for off-grid solar electrification in rural China and host a stakeholder conference to collect and test findings. The team used the insights to inform the design of a rapid prototype model that will expand access to these solutions.

UNFCCC’s 21st Conference of Parties: SIPA Delegation, Paris, France

In close collaboration with Chinese counterparts at the various governmental levels, this team of students conducted a feasibility study for a centralized database of existing renewable energy policies and incentives. The purpose of the database would be to inform and promote the deployment of energy solutions by firms and governments across China.

Energy Empowered Village

Primarily working on access to fuel, the EE Village project sought to address the energy-related needs of Tanggedu Village on the rural Sumba Island. Their pilot implementation model included the physical delivery and implementation of biofuel equipment, as well as educational materials with technical instructions for sustaining a biofuel-generated village.

Sustainable Power from Agriculture in Ukraine

This team’s project aimed to promote sustainable power from agriculture by assessing the feasibility of a second-generation biofuels plant in the Odessa region.


Renewable Energy Policy Database for China

In close collaboration with Chinese counterparts at the various governmental levels, this team of students conducted a feasibility study for a centralized database of existing renewable energy policies and incentives. The purpose of the database would be to inform and promote the deployment of energy solutions by firms and governments across China.


Charging the Northeast

This student group provided an analysis of the state of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut as of Spring 2017, financial analysis on the economics of charging network development, and estimates of potential greenhouse gas emission reductions accomplished through EV adoption.


Bridging the Global Data Gap: Gender and Environment

Using International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Environment and Gender Index as a framework to identify gender-disaggregated data gaps, this team traveled to Indonesia to study data availability in the forestry sector. The resulting documentary examines the interrelated nature of gender and the environment, and how dependable data informs policy.


Project Joule

In partnership with the Layan Refugee Camp network, Huffington Post, and Chatham House, this project team studied the intersection of home economics, energy needs, and energy access in the context of three Syrian Refugee Camps. The team traveled to Lebanon to document living conditions and conduct interviews with families living in camps. The resulting material was presented in an exposition of photos and stories meant to garner private sector support and solutions.



Using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, this has teamed up with Great Lakes and other graduate-level universities to build an open-source map that plots institutional-level energy access in Rwanda. The map will be used to help energy providers target areas for new development more effectively.


India Greenbook

In order to promote new investment in the solar sector in Rajasthan, India, this team partnered with the Rajasthan Solar Association to study feasibility of solar securitization for investors.


Capital Markets: Can Clean Energy Learn from Oil and Gas?

This New York-based research project explored the history of capital markets for oil and gas and consider lessons that could be applied to increasing investments in low-carbon technologies. It was implemented in partnership with the Center on Global Energy Policy and Aligned Intermediary.