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New Mexico Highlands University, one of two core partners in SFIP’s affiliate the Center for Cultural Technology, will offer expanded opportunities thanks to a new degree program to be offered by the Department of Media Arts & Design. On November 17th, the New Mexico Board of Finance approved the MFA in media arts and cultural technology in a unanimous vote. According to Professor Miriam Langer, the new MFA program will build upon a strong 10-year partnership between Highlands and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs in the Center for Cultural Technology (CCT). The partnership places paid interns in museums and other cultural institutions throughout the state as part of the university’s one-of-a-kind AmeriCorps Cultural Technology (ACT) program. Each MFA student will be required to complete a minimum of 600 hours of internship in a cultural setting. Highlands is now submitting the new MFA to the Higher Learning Commission, the university’s accrediting agency, for approval. The new program will begin fall semester 2017. Read the rest of this entry »

The following post originally appeared on the Microgrid Systems Lab news page:

MSL Partner Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) and its Sustainable Technologies Center has received two funding commitments in support of its Microgrid Education Center (MEC), which now begins its planning and development phase. Together, these commitments address both curriculum and associated equipment and infrastructure, including a campus-wide functional microgrid testbed, in a way that supports MSL’s overall mission and objectives.

The Microgrid Education Center will provide technical training, ongoing development for industry professionals, custom training for industry, and upper-level courses and advanced degrees through university partnerships, along with “train the trainer” offerings for global applications. The electric industry workforce is graying rapidly, and will require large numbers of new workers soon, with concurrent growth internationally in rural electrification. In order to keep pace with the technological innovations affecting the industry, there will be a crucial need for appropriately trained technical staff at all levels and sectors of the industry, a need that MEC will help address.

Read the rest of this entry »

This post originally appeared on SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) news:

Human, Social, And Cultural Practices Work Advances

MSL is pleased to announce that its inaugural research publication is available for download: Human, Social, And Cultural Practices For Rural Electrification Using Microgrids develops a critical set of insights and tools to ensure the success of rural microgrid (and other technology) deployments based on essential aspects of community engagement and input. This work was the subject of the MSL-hosted workshop in May 2014, and formed part of a Stage 1 feasibility study for rural deployments in India. MSL is now part of a consortium comprising MSL Members General MicroGrids, Inc. and The Energy and Resources Institute, along with Alstom Grid USA, India Smart Grid Forum, and India’s TERRE Policy Center, which is assembling funding for Stage 2 design and deployment work. In addition, MSL is developing the Center for Participatory Energy Practice (CPEP), and through it will support training and community engagement work in the field. Read the rest of this entry »

Santa Fe’s next generation of Social Entrepreneurs have arrived

After careful deliberation by an expert panel of judges, Impact Network Santa Fe (an SFIP collaboration with the Story of Place Institute) has chosen its first class of social entrepreneurs to venture on a five month fellowship to gear their businesses for optimum results. Social enterprises are those that harness market forces and utilize business skills and practices in order to achieve a social objective, and are a critical element of the overall INSF initiative.

The IN Santa Fe Challenge Fellowship is an opportunity for select social entrepreneurs to seed their projects, learn, grow and sustain their enterprises. It brings together a small number of social entrepreneurs for a five-month period with supporting members of the community to develop integrated business plans that can leverage the systemic impact of their startup ventures. These projects were selected through a competitive challenge, and winners will work closely with a team of topical experts and resource networks. Beyond the five-month “challenge” period, IN Santa Fe will continue to serve as a networking and resource support platform for these entrepreneurs.

Winners of the INSF fellowship are… Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) recently took a significant step toward fulfilling the goal of integrating creative problem solving techniques with challenges and processes in other domains. The following post originally appeared in the MSL news blog on May 5, 2014:

In support of its human factors work on the DOE-India microgrid pilot feasibility study, MSL convened a cross-sector workshop of a dozen experts drawn from a broad range of  relevant disciplines and on-the-ground experience. The highly successful workshop was co-facilitated and hosted by the Santa Fe Art Institute (an affiliate of MSL partner institution the Santa Fe Innovation Park) and its director Sanjit Sethi, an expert in “design thinking” and its application to many problem-solving settings. It featured a user-centered design approach to the Human, Social, and Cultural (“HSC”) factors bearing on successful technology and energy projects in rural community settings. Joining Sanjit in leading the session were MSL General Manager David Breecker, and Christian Casillas, who recently completed his Ph.D. at the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley. Christian did his field work in community participatory energy planning in Nicaragua, and also has practical experience in India. Read the rest of this entry »

Anyone following SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) knows how many good reasons there are to move toward this highly decentralized architecture in terms of efficiency, reduced greenhouse emissions, community engagement, and alleviating energy poverty in un-wired portions of the planet.

Now, a number of recent research reports and presentations have added impetus to the microgrid trend by addressing various aspects of the business case: the economics of microgrid deployment, the pace of development, the societal value of conversion, and the cost of inaction. We’ve summarized some of the most interesting below, beginning with the “big picture” of current grid costs and potential, and then moving on to microgrids’ role and value.

Economic benefit of Smart Grid efficiencies by 2030: $2 trillion

Estimated cost: $338 billion. Courtesy of George Arnold, national coordinator for smart grid interoperability at the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Given the role that microgrids can and will play as enabling infrastructure for many of the most valuable aspects of the smart grid revolution, we can can assign some meaningful portion of this projected $2 trillion efficiency to them, going forward. Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Laboratory is pleased to announce that State Senator Peter Wirth has introducedNM seal appropriation bill SB105 for the Lab’s next-stage design and development, which was endorsed by the State Legislature’s Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. We encourage all of our readers in New Mexico to reach out to their legislators in support of this bill.

On a related note, both Santa Fe County and City have passed resolutions in support of the Lab. And Los Alamos National Security, manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory, will provide seed funding for MSL’s development (through LANS’ support of our partner Santa Fe Community College’s Sustainable Technologies Center).

The Santa Fe New Mexican published an analysis of the bill on its technology blog, and Randy Grissom of Santa Fe Community College (a project partner) was interviewed on KFSR. We expect to make some important announcements soon about key industry partners and other international-level support and engagement, so stay tuned…

The St. Michael’s Corridor Revitalization Initiative

SFIP is pleased to lead the renewable energy component of Santa Fe’s RE:MIKE initiative, under its Microgrid Innovation Lab. This initiative, which is designed to catalyze the revitalization of a “Central Santa Fe” district, kicks off with “a participatory festival-style public event on September 21, 22 & 23: A pop-up previtalization of Central Santa Fe.” The RE:ENERGIZE component will feature pop-up renewable generation and infrastructure; an “Energy Village” with displays, electric vehicles, and passive efficiency techniques; a Smart Home demo; and an exploration of what a future “neighborhood energy network” might look like. A fuller description from the initiative’s website follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Some recent readings have conspired with the launch of SFIP’s collaboration with artist Sydney Cooper and the Portray.It project’s design phase, to make us ponder the essential role of the imagination in deep innovation.

Let’s start with the magnificent Marina Warner, one of our most profound scholars of and thinkers in the realms of magic, myth, and mystery. In her new book, “Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights,” she offers the following observations (emphasis added):

“Magic is not simply a matter of the occult or the esoteric, of astrology, Wicca and Satanism; it follows processes inherent to human consciousness and connected to constructive and imaginative thought. The faculties of imagination — dream, projection, fantasy — are bound up with the faculties of reasoning and essential to making the leap beyond the known into the unknown. At one pole (myth), magic is associated with poetic truth, at another (the history of science) with inquiry and speculation. It was bound up with understanding physical forces in nature and led to technical ingenuity and discoveries. Magical thinking structures the processes of imagination, and imagining something can and sometimes must precede the fact or the act; it has shaped many features of Western civilization. But its influence has been constantly disavowed since the Enlightenment, and consequently misunderstood.” Read the rest of this entry »

An excellent post over at frog’s design mind blog (“Adapt, Jugaad, Hacking, Shanzhai or the Merits of Seeing the World As It Is Not”) makes a number of crucial points, many relevant to SFIP. Among them are the idea that innovation fads come and go (remember Design Thinking?); the insight that “wrong is right,” since true innovators always “see the world as it is not”; and the corollary observation that innovation is a mindset, rather than a process that can be administered or learned, for which serendipity is key. Author Tim Leberecht focuses in on the Indian practice called Jugaad: 

“Jugaad is a remote sibling of the Western-style hacking, the manipulation of existing products and services, and with the Chinese Shanzhai phenomenon (innovation through fast imitation) it has in common the utter disrespect for any kind of brand or management ideology. Adaptation, improvisation, rapid experimentation, fast failing, a high tolerance for ambiguity, super-flexibility… together these principles are perhaps marking the beginning of a new era of doing business, a new economy.”

It’s enough to make you think that innovation is a case of emergent behavior in a complex system (which to some extent it is), beyond influence. But I would also argue that there is room for adding structure, context, and what I’ll call method (as opposed to a process) to accelerate and diffuse innovation. As one example, SFIP’s method, based on its overall problem-solving approach, features five main themes: Read the rest of this entry »

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