Guest Lectures

Profile: Engineer explains energy expenditure

Daily Camera
July 20, 2003

Name: Michael Hannigan

Age: 35

Home: Niwot

Job: Research associate for mechanical and environmental engineering at the University of Colorado

Current Project: Hannigan contributed to a report, "What Every Westerner Should Know about Energy," by detailing the energy transfer it requires to turn a piece of bread into toast. The study was done by CU's Center of the American West.

Although toasting a bagel or piece of bread looks like a simple process, Hannigan said it requires four energy transfers. "If you just take a lump of coal and burn your toast, it's four times more efficient," he said. "It seems to me Americans don't realize how intertwined energy is with our lives."

How did you come to be working in this field? "I'm kind of an energy freak," said Hannigan, who has a vested interest in reducing air pollution. Hannigan earned his civil engineering Ph.D. from Cal Tech in Pasadena, Calif. In his thesis, Hannigan detailed air pollution in Southern California.

Why is your particular science project important to you? "I want to make my footprint on the Earth a little bit smaller."

Who is your favorite scientist? My thesis advisor, Dr. Glen Cass, a recently deceased environmental engineering professor from Cal Tech.

What's your favorite breakfast food? A toasted bagel with cream cheese

What is your favorite gadget? "Definitely my bike." Hannigan said he rides to work on what he calls his "old beat-up commuter bike." For his recent birthday, he said that his wife ordered him a Pedicab, which he referred to as the SUV of bikes. He said he is looking forward to having a cab on his bike so he can ride to the grocery store.

Favorite place in Boulder? "I love all of Boulder and CU. I'd have to say Chautauqua and on campus the Mary Rippon Theater."

What do you enjoy to do when you are not studying air pollution or burning bread? "I like to be outside and spend time with my wife and our three horses."

Brittany Anas, For the Camera