Energy Scholarship Winner Inspires With Vision for Underserved

When James Manning, the 2019 recipient of the John Gray Scholarship Award from the International District Energy Association (IDEA), received his award from TECO’s Steve Swinson June 26, the room became silent as Manning eloquently described his vision for the future.

“Over the past several days I’ve had the opportunity to hear about the benefits of district energy and microgrids,” said Manning. “But all of these have focused on large urban areas with dense populations. But I think there is tremendous opportunity in providing for underserved rural communities in the developing world, such as sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. I’m looking at developing a model that creates a water purification and distribution system that’s integrated with a microgrid system within a single comingled structure. It would provide communities with their basic water and electricity needs.”

TECO's President and CEO Steve Swinson currently chairs IDEA’s John Gray Scholarship program and was part of the committee that selected Manning for the award. “James is an incredibly worthy scholarship recipient,” says Swinson. “He holds a 3.9 GPA and wants to become part of a research institute and find sustainable ways to bring more power and water to people in need, something we totally take for granted. Both are needed if you are to have any quality of life and any length of life.”

Manning is a Ph.D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and is a commissioned officer in the military. Sustainable Water sponsored Manning’s conference attendance at IDEA’s annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pa.

IDEA’s board of directors established the John Gray Scholarship Program in 2009 to recognize potential future leaders in the district energy and combined heat and power industries and to support education and enrichment, especially among young people just getting started in their career. The scholarship is offered annually to individuals pursuing an enhancement of knowledge of district energy either through the educational opportunities at IDEA meetings or through educational programs at universities in management, engineering, finance, or energy.

A longtime IDEA member, TECO’s Swinson co-founded the program. “John Gray, the scholarship’s namesake, was a close friend and colleague of mine. He was a proud Canadian, a gifted engineer, a lifelong learner, an IDEA president and a devoted IDEA member for more than 50 years. His motto, as enshrined on the scholarship plaque, is ‘Live simply. Give more. Expect less.’ It’s how John lived. The world would be a lot better if we were all John Grays.”

Photo caption: TECO’s Steve Swinson, right, presented the 2019 John Gray Scholarship Award to James Manning, PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University.

June 2019

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