On his journey around the world, cyclist stops at Livingston Campus with messages about technology, sustainability

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On a sweltering late June day with dangerous ozone alerts flashing across weather apps and websites, Max Peer turned his 400-pound bike towards Rutgers Business School’s towering gateway to the Livingston Campus on his way to discuss sustainability with a group of supply chain management students in part of his “Share the Knowledge Tour.”

Only 1,400 miles into his 35,000-mile trek around the globe by bicycle and canoe, Peer is using his trip to raise awareness about the importance of sustainability and the work of the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF), a non-profit organization working to make technology more people-friendly and accessible.

Max Peer rides to Rutgers Business School

Max Peer on mile 1,400 at Rutgers Business School.

The Livingston Campus couldn’t have been a more ideal place for him to promote his cause. The campus generates 65 percent of its electricity demand from two huge solar facilities and features an elaborate geothermal field that will be used to heat and cool the new Rutgers Business School building, which is expected to be completed in time for the fall semester.

In his pocket, Peer proudly produced a 1-inch cylinder of cement containing 3 liters of reacted CO2 made by Rutgers Professor Richard Riman,  Materials Science and Engineering, using a recently patented process of low temperature hydrothermal solidification, a green alternative to current cement manufacturing.  Cement production is one of the primary sources of CO2, the potent greenhouse gas that is largely responsible for global warming.

“Rutgers University and my mission of sustainability have a lot in common,” said Peer. “You can see it on this campus and the focus on environmental friendly construction and in the work some of the Rutgers professors are doing.”

Max Peer with Rutgers Business School students

Students stand with Max Peer and his 400 lb. bike which holds a canoe and uses solar power to keep Max's GPS and cell phones charged.

Speaking to the group of students Peer said he came up with the idea of a bike tour to “visualize the idea of sustainability.” Peer talked about his journey, the work of Interaction Design Foundation and its commitment to sharing information about technology as well as the free online courses available from SAP.

Representing SAP, Kevin Bruzzo, who earned an MBA from Rutgers Business School in 1991, said that the challenge for businesses in the future was to “supply the material things people want without destroying the environment.”

As part of its university alliances program, SAP provides the Department of Supply Chain Management and Marketing Sciences at RBS with licenses to use its software systems in classes. The partnership also results in scholarships and more promising job placement prospects for students.

Max Peer at a press conference announcing the start of his "Share the Knowledge Tour" for IDF.

The bike ride of all bike rides is being sponsored by SAP in partnership with the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF). The foundation is a not-for-profit online publisher of free educational material. Its goal is to spread knowledge about technology design in hopes of making everything from websites to electronic appliances more people friendly and easier to use.

The foundation’s educational material is created from a combination of academic thought leaders and industry giants such as Google.

Peer, a former sound engineer turned activist on a bike, has gone on previous rides on behalf of non-government organizations. In addition to education and other causes, the Austrian-born cyclist has supported clearing landmines from agricultural areas to help create sustainable land for farmers in Southeast Asia.

On his way to Rutgers from Florida, Peer has made stops to speak about IDF and SAP at Georgia Southern University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical, Virginia Commonwealth and Towson. He also stopped at SAP’s U.S. headquarters in Newtown Square, outside Philadelphia.

On his way out of the Livingston Campus Peer pedaled past a seven-acre field of solar panels that was created nearly four years ago as a source of renewable energy. It remains one of the largest solar energy facilities on a U.S. college campus. In January, the university supplemented the field by erecting the state’s largest solar carport over a parking lot near the new Rutgers Business School building.

Together, the solar facilities supply 65 percent of the power required by the Livingston Campus, according to Michael Kornitas, the university’s energy conservation manager. He said the two structures will also reduce the university’s carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 6,364 metric tons.

An aerial view of the university's seven-acre solar field. The facility consists of more than 7,000 solar panels.

The geothermal system contained beneath a field not far from where the business school building is also impressive, with 321 vertical holes reaching as far as 500 feet into the earth.

Rutgers Business School landed on Peer’s around-the-world itinerary as a result of its 11-year relationship with SAP.

“We teach using their software,” said Lian Qi, an assistant professor in supply chain management, ranked #3 in North America according to Gartner Supply Chain Leaders. “We want to show our students how SAP systems work.”

Most of the major pharmaceutical companies in New Jersey use SAP software systems to manage their supply chains, and nearly 95 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies use SAP’s systems, according to Qi. The experience of using the systems in the classroom gives students an advantage in the increasingly competitive area of business logistics.

“If the students know SAP,’’ Qi said, “they can quickly find a job.”

TAGS: Corporate Partners Livingston Campus Rutgers Business School Supply Chain Management Sustainability