Energy Policy

Meet the Instructor - Dan Kasper


Hi, everyone! My name is Dan Kasper, and I will be your instructor for this course. I am very much looking forward to working with all of you this semester! 

My Educational Background

I grew up in a very small town in Central Pennsylvania (Milesburg) about 10 miles from State College – believe it or not, the townsfolk are still waiting for their first stop light. After trying out a few majors at Penn State, I ended up deciding on Earth Science because it interested me the most. I've always been, and continue to be, fascinated by natural processes, from the tiniest processes such as soil formation to the large, dramatic processes such as mountain building. After earning my BS at University Park, I spun my wheels for a few years bartending (at the now-closed Gingerbread Man) and working part-time at the Center for Environmental Informatics at Penn State. I focused mostly on basic Geographic Information Systems (GIS) work at the latter job. I continued to use GIS throughout my academic career.

After a few years, my wife and I moved to Denver, Colorado, where I earned my MA in Geography from the University of Denver. My wife and I think very fondly of our time in Denver because we absolutely love the scenery, the people, and the active lifestyle there. (And we really miss the music scene as well.) I also spent some time in a Ph.D. program at the University of Delaware's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP). In my time at CEEP, I have engaged in a number of research projects, including analyzing a sustainable energy future for South Korea, a policy report on promoting personal food production in Delaware, and designing an energy education workshop series focusing on helping low and fixed income individuals take control of their energy use, among other topics. I now live in Wilmington, DE, very close to the Pennsylvania border, with my wife and two daughters (now 13 and 9).

My Professional Background

During and after grad school, I worked as a curriculum designer and project manager for a weatherization training center in Philadelphia (focusing on low-income clients), and continue to consult in the energy efficiency and energy management fields. I serve on the board of a non-profit that focuses on assisting in the empowerment of low-income populations. I currently teach full-time in the Energy Technologies Department at Delaware Technical Community College in Newark, Delaware. I focus mostly on Energy Management but have also taught and/or developed courses in Sustainability, Human Geography, Renewable Energy, Solar PV, Energy Accounting, and Energy Investment Analysis. I have taken DelTech students to Denmark, Switzerland, and Italy over the years for short-term embedded experiences. I currently lead a team of students in performing ASHRAE Level II energy audits.

two men standing in nacelle of wind turbine
Your fearless instructor in the nacelle of a 50m tall wind turbine in Denmark (I am on the left). In the background is a quintessential Danish countryside.
Credit: D. Kasper

I have been working part-time in the Energy and Sustainability Policy Program at Penn State for nearly 10 years, and have taught courses in Sustainability and Global Energy Enterprise. This is the second time I have taught this course, and I'm excited to dig back into it! In the summer of 2019, I took Penn State students to Colorado to talk to a number of individuals who have engaged in applied sustainability. The goal of the course was to have the students learn about applied sustainability projects first-hand and create proposals for their own projects. I ran this course again in the summer of 2022 and may offer it in the future. The scenery was incredible, and the people we visited were inspiring. Here is the itinerary and here is the course in case you are interested. If we do offer it again, I will let you know. If you are an ESP major, this would count toward your Foreign Studies/Internship course, which is required for graduation. 

 A group of Penn State students standing in front of mountain scenery with a Penn State flag
One of our site visits in Colorado was a micro-hydroelectric (micro-hydro) installation on an off-grid home in Paonia, Colorado. Click on the image for a larger view.
Credit: D. Kasper

Outside of the classroom

Between my various jobs and family responsibilities, I don't have much time. I love gardening and wish I had more time to devote to it. I pick up the guitar from time to time and have started to try and teach myself the piano (mostly unsuccessfully, it should be noted). I try to ride my e-bike as much as possible. (Side note: E-bikes are life-changing!) I also recently purchased a scooter - which is technically a motorcycle due to engine size - and that has been a source of enjoyment.

Final Note

I have worked since I was very young and worked throughout college. I know that many - if not all - of you are working and have families, and believe me, I can relate. I had my first daughter early in my Ph.D. program. You wouldn't believe how many papers I've written with an infant on my lap! Please know that I commend you for your decision to continue your education, with so many other things begging for your time. I hope I can be helpful to you on this leg of your academic journey.

One of my favorite quotes is: “Climb to the top of the mountain so you can see the world, not so it can see you” (unknown author). I hope that this course, and I, can help you take some steps closer to whichever mountain top you are trying to reach.