News from the Bush School

Interdisciplinary Team with Bush School Students Places in Energy Competition

March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

An interdisciplinary team of students from Texas A&M University placed third in the Power Across Texas 2013 Energy Innovation Challenge competition March 1, earning them a $5,000 scholarship.

The team included two students from the Bush School of Government & Public Service: Rachael Dahl, a second-year Master of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) student; and Lauren Pfeifer, a second-year student from the Master’s Program in International Affairs (MPIA).  The third team member was James Robertson, a PhD student in civil engineering who has taken several Bush School courses while at Texas A&M.

“I was first made aware of the opportunity to participate in this competition through involvement with the Texas A&M Energy Club on campus,” Dahl said.  The three students had balanced strengths in business, finance, economics, international development, civil engineering, energy and public policy, which Dahl said made them an “ideal team to take on the Power Across Texas energy challenge.”

This energy innovation challenge brings together interdisciplinary student teams to address a fundamentally interdisciplinary challenge to modern society.  The competition took place in Austin at the Texas State Capitol.

“The interdisciplinary nature of the project was important because to solve the tough problems facing society, people with business, policy and engineering backgrounds must work together,” Dahl said.  “Without all of these elements combined, realistic solutions cannot be created.  Each discipline has limitations which other disciplines fill in with strengths.”

The Texas A&M team’s presentation was titled “Powering the Texas Colonias,” and provided a thorough analysis of the social and political conditions which contributed to the creation of the Texas colonias, unincorporated settlements along the Texas-Mexico border that lack infrastructure such as paved roads, water and sewer systems, and safe housing.  Dahl said that as part of their presentation, the team “provided a technology solution, a framework for a business solution, and three policy recommendations.”

The Bush School’s acting dean, Andrew Card, applauded the students for their involvement in the project, saying, “The Bush School faculty regularly engage in interdisciplinary research and we are proud that students have the same mindset.  By participating in events like these, Bush School students are able to combine their expertise to create strategic, comprehensive and realistic solutions to impact society.”

For more about the Power Across Texas Energy Innovation Challenge, visit