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  5. Engineering faculty to join energy discussion at Tales from Planet Earth Film Festival

Engineering faculty to join energy discussion at Tales from Planet Earth Film Festival

 A still from the documentary Pandora's Promise depicts electrical lines on a street in Brazil.

UW-Madison engineering faculty will take part in discussions about nuclear energy and power generation during the Tales from Planet Earth film festival, which takes place November 1 through 3 at multiple venues on the UW-Madison campus. 

Tales from Planet Earth, hosted by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, is a free biennial film festival whose selections offer a broad range of perspectives on the environment and its relationship with human beings. The theme of this year’s festival is “Futures,” which makes it an ideal opportunity for engineering faculty to share their insights on new developments in the energy world.

On November 1 at 1:30, Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Giri Venkataramanan and Assistant Professor Dan Ludois will join several Tales filmmakers in the Wisconsin Energy Institute Energy Innovation Lab. The event will feature the directors of two new documentaries about populations that lack access to electricity, Black Out (screening November 3 at 1 p.m. at the Marquee in Union South) and Powerless (screening November 3 at 3 p.m. at the Marquee in Union South). Ludois and Venkataramanan have both pursued research that involves mitigating blackouts or expanding access to electricity, and will engage with the filmmakers in lab tours and discussions about overcoming the barriers to more widespread electrification. The event includes a visit to Venkataramanan’s lab in Engineering Hall beginning at 3:30 p.m.

On November 2, following a screening of Pandora’s Promise, a documentary on the debate surrounding nuclear energy, Engineering Physics Associate Professor Paul Wilson and Civil and Environmental Engineering Adjunct Professor John Nelson will be part of a panel discussion on nuclear energy. The panel will also include students from the UW-Madison nuclear engineering program, as well as Pandora’s Promise director Robert Stone, who will join the conversation via Skype. The film screens Saturday, November 2 at 7 p.m. in the Marquee at Union South, with the discussion immediately following.

For more information on Tales From Planet Earth, including a full schedule of films and speakers, visit

Scott Gordon