U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu visits campus

U.S. Secretary of Energy and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu stopped by the SF State campus Wednesday to visit with science and engineering students.

A photo of U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu at San Francisco State University.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu speaks to SF State students. Feb. 1. Credit: Lannie Nguyen, College of Science and Engineering.

Speaking to a packed lecture hall, Chu said the work being done at American universities and companies convinces him the United States remains second-to-none in innovation and manufacturing.

"We still are the creators of much of what will be the future," Chu said.

Chu told students to work hard and learn as much as possible while in school, and even passed along some studying advice. "You don't learn anything by cramming the night before," he said, to laughter.

In an hour-long question-and-answer session, students asked about nuclear waste disposal and natural gas extraction, and Chu responded there are ways to do both with minimal impact on the environment. Responding to a question about failed Bay Area solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which received a $500 million federal loan, Chu said the loss of jobs was regrettable but should not deter the country's commitment to renewable energy.

Echoing themes President Barack Obama used in his recent State of the Union address, Chu also said the U.S. must continue to focus on education, telling students they will shape not only their own future but also the future of the country. "The best part of an education is you learn the tools to teach yourself what you need to know five, 10, 20 years from now," he said.

Chu received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for his research at Bell Labs in cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light. Prior to his appointment as Secretary of Energy, Chu was a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at University of California, Berkeley and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

To view the video of Chu's remarks, click here.

-- Jonathan Morales