Watch the Lecture Capture here

SPECIAL EVENT: “What is Happening in Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century?”
A Panel to Complement the Michigan Engineering Common Reading Experience of “Full Body Burden.”

The Michigan Engineering community had a conversation with leaders from the nuclear industry, including former leadership from the Department of Energy. Dr. Monica Regalbuto, Idaho National Laboratory, served as former Assistant Secretary for Energy and Environmental Management for the U.S. Department of Energy where she was responsible for clean-up of sites, including Rocky Flats and the Hanford site. River Bennett is a Nuclear Policy Analyst for Nuclear Innovation Alliance which supports entrepreneurialism and commercialization of advanced nuclear energy systems with the goal of providing more economically competitive, carbon-free energy to the world. He is an advocate with Students for Nuclear. Dr. Sola Talabi is a consultant with Pittsburgh Technical, providing expertise in risk management consulting within the nuclear energy industry. The panel was moderated by Dr. Ann Verhey-Henke, Strategic Director of the U-M Center for Socially Engaged Design. Panelists provided insight in several areas, including:

  • Status and challenges of sites that are being cleaned
  • The global implications of nuclear energy growth
  • Risks and safety when thinking about nuclear energy
  • The portrayal of Rocky Flats as presented in “Full Body Burden” by Kristen Iversen

Learn more about the Future of Nuclear Engineering

Read about the Rocky Flats Closure Legacy & the Fourth Five-Year Review of Rocky Flats

Previous Events

On Wednesday, November 18, 2015, we held a student organization fair entitled, I Am Because We Are. This was an opportunity for students to learn more about student organizations that volunteer opportunities in the United States and abroad. The event was well attended and students gained a lot of information about volunteer opportunities that are available.


On December 4, 2015, the Common Reading Student Advisory Board partnered with the Ginsberg Center to be read The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind to school children in Ann Arbor. This will be an ongoing volunteer opportunity and if you are interested in helping to promote literacy in Ann Arbor, please contact Melissa Sweeney ( for more information.



Related Events

Throughout the year, the Michigan Engineering community will have the opportunity to participate in events featuring topics related to the book. Small group discussions will take place during the month of September, followed by a variety of other events including a featured speaker. Engineering faculty will incorporate topics from the book into coursework offered during the first year and a variety of College of Engineering offices and programs will offer events related to the Common Reading Experience.  Events will be added as they are announced.


2014 Common Reading Experience Event Highlights
2014 Book: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Keynote Event with William Kamkwamba –
November 7, 2014

Last year, William Kamkwamba, co-author of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind spoke to the College of Engineering community on the topic: “How I Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope.”

As a young Malawian boy living in poverty and famine, William Kamkwamba built a windmill to power his family’s home, by gathering scrap parts and working from rough plans he found in a library book called Using Energy.  In this Keynote Event, William shared a moving tale of invention that changed his life.  His achievements are a testament to the triumph of imagination and the power of human potential under the most adverse circumstances.


William Kamkwamba introduces himself to College of Engineering students.

“I grew up in a family of seven children–all sisters.  As you can imagine, life wasn’t too easy for me growing up.”

William talks about the importance of farming and speaks about his education in Malawi.

“We depend on growing our own crops…There was drought in the country…It was difficult for many families.”
“I didn’t want to become a farmer…For me to get out of that cycle was through education.”

William speaks on his curiosity and imagination as a child.

“How does that gas turn the engine to the speed you’re going to be able to drive?  Nobody could really tell me.”

William talks about taking a radio apart as a child and discovering how electricity works.

“When I was much younger…I thought that inside the radio, there are small, tiny people who speak.”

William talks about how he tried to generate biogas for energy for cooking.

“If I can generate this gas, then I can solve this problem…I took one of our best cooking pots…”

William speaks on how he started to build his own windmill.

“If I can build this windmill to pump water, then I can be able to solve the problem we are facing…We can double the amount of food each year.”

William talks about his organization, Moving Windmills and how he helped rebuild his primary school.

“A lot of people don’t have electricity at home.  So their kids come to this school to study and read later on at night.”

William gives advice about facing challenges in life.

“Everything that you do, you’re going to face some challenges.  But don’t allow those challenges to stop you from achieving your goal or building up your dreams.”


Cooley Writing Contest – 2014

In 2014, first-year engineering students had the exclusive opportunity to write an essay on a topic in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind for a chance to win $500 through the Cooley Writing Contest!  For additional information on the Cooley Writing Contest, visit their website:

Cooley Writing Contest Information


2013 Common Reading Experience Event Highlights
2013 Book: The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli

Keynote Event: Doing Well and Doing Good – Friday, February 7, 2014

In partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurship, David Merritt, former Michigan Basketball captain and local business owner of Merit spoke to students about how something as simple as the purchase of a t-shirt can “do good” in the world and make an impact in the lives of others. David’s clothing store, Merit, located on South University on central campus, donates 20% of all apparel sales to college scholarships for youth from Detroit.

David Merritt, former UM Basketball captain and local entrepreneur
Photo Credit: Linda Peterson

Cupcake Day – Center for Educational Diversity and Outreach- December 4, 2013

As part of the monthly CEDO Cupcake Day, students indulged in delicious (and free!) Common Reading Experience themed cupcakes. In keeping with the themes of the 2013 Common Reading Experience book The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, students had the opportunity to identify where their t-shirt was made and place a pin on the country on the map of the world. We found that students’ t-shirts were manufactured in countries all around the world—from china to India to Indonesia to right here in the U.S.A!

 Free Common Reading Experience themed cupcakes! 

T-Shirt Distribution – Fall 2013

After participating in the Common Reading Experience discussion sessions, students received a free t-shirt!

Free t-shirts for first-year engineering students!

Other 2013 Events:

Freshman Workshop: Jump Start your Job Search – Sponsored by the Engineering Career Resource Center and GE

  • This workshop provided students with resources to jump start their  job search, stay on track, and impress recruiters every step of the way. Students were provided information on optimal resume builders, i.e. those activities and experiences (in the classroom and outside) that help develop the skills recruiters value most. Additionally, themes from the Common Reading Experience were incorporated into workshop topics including globalization, politics, culture, world events, and economics as related to the job search in engineering fields.

Study Abroad Fair – Sponsored by International Programs in Engineering

  • Students learned about opportunities to travel abroad to one of the countries mentioned in The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy.

Entrepreneurship Hour (ENGR 407)

  • The Entrepreneurship Hour seminar series incorporated themes from the 2013 Common Reading Experience throughout the semester.  Lectures featured guest speakers including entrepreneurs, business leaders, technology innovators, and venture capitalists.


UM Departments and Offices: If you are hosting an event on-campus and would like it added to the Common Reading Experience Events Page, please email or call (734) 763-0505.