Sam Lefkofsky '21

Meet the Class of 2021

A Passion for Energy

Sam Lefkofsky '21
Hometown: Winnetka, IL
Major: Engineering Sciences

After visiting Dartmouth as a prospective student, Sam Lefkofsky '21 determined the College was a good fit for his interests. He was impressed by the engineering program, the opportunities a school of Dartmouth's size would give him to get to know his professors, the small-town charm of Hanover, and the plentiful outdoor activities in the region. What he did not anticipate, however, was that his interest in aerospace and mechanical engineering would evolve into a focus on energy. 

In fact, Sam laughs, when his father had suggested that Sam might combine his interests in the outdoors and math and science into an energy or environmental engineering degree, Sam dismissed it out of hand. "I said 'I don't like that at all!'" As he leaves Dartmouth, however, headed to an internship at the Rocky Mountain Institute's Third Derivative climate tech accelerator, it turns out that energy proved to be a deeply compelling subject for him.

For Sam, the pathway to energy began with a couple of energy-centric engineering classes — thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. He enjoyed them so much that he wound up as a teaching assistant for both. The deal was sealed, however, during the summer of 2020, when a COVID-cancelled internship caused Sam to instead enroll in Tuck Bridge, a program which offers a summer business education intensive for liberal arts and STEM students. In particular, a case study led by Irving Institute Advisory Board Chair Scott Fisher '93 Th'93 Tu'98, turned out to be "the perfect combination" of Sam's engineering and business interests. 

During the program, Sam had a chance to talk in more depth with Scott and learn more about the Irving Institute for Energy and Society. "I had heard of the Institute but I didn't really know much about it." This conversation led Sam to connect with the Institute and, during fall 2020, work on a research project, overseen by Institute Research Director Stephen Doig, focused on analysing the energy footprint of the cafe to be  located in the new Institute building on the campus' West End. 

Sam's analysis resulted in several recommendations that would significantly cut down on the cafe's energy usage that were then adopted by the building project team. [Learn more about Sam's project here.] He also spent spring 2021 working with Institute and the Sustainability Office staff to develop plans to help tell the building's 'energy story' — that is, create programs, displays, and other ways of embodying the highly energy efficient elements of the Institute's new home.   

During winter 2021, Sam also received his LEED Green Energy Associate certification, where he learned the fundamentals of green building. Seeing how useful he found the material, he decided to create and offer an asynchronous exam prep course for his fellow Dartmouth students, 30 of whom took him up on the offer. 

Sam sees a lot of hope in the passion for energy that he sees in Dartmouth students. Things like the Irving Institute, the Sustainability Office, and the Tiny Lab project, he says, really help the College to become a living laboratory, where students can get involved in helping Dartmouth make progress on the energy front. "I think the new building can be a hub for students to connect and really push the College to be more ambitious in its energy goals," he says. "There are so many opportunities to make progress on campus."