Patrick Goley is one whose curiosity definitely led him to Virginia Tech on a less travelled path. Just a few years ago, Patrick was living the life of a professionally trained and educated chef at the prestigious Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia. During that time, he remained curious about other careers, and was always excited to read about new breakthroughs in energy technology. He dreamed about one day joining the front lines in the struggle to solve global energy problems. Every day, this dream becomes more real. At 28 years old, Goley is a junior majoring in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering, focusing on solar energy. He has received several scholarships and is a member of numerous honor societies. He has worked with Engineers without Borders as Guatamala Water Supply Project lead. He is a member of the Honors Residential College and was elected as its first co-president. He volunteered with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem while an intern at General Electric, where he developed standards for software automation of engineering for gas and steam turbine control panels. The streamlined process is estimated to generate a total cost savings of a quarter to a half million dollars annually.
Despite all these academic and personal achievements, when asked what the highlight of his college career has been, Goley said, "Working with my housemates to make soup for 80 people every Friday. It serves as the focal point for a community social event that we call Soup Night. Most who come are HRC community members, however, we welcome guests as well. We've never turned anyone away!"
This speaks to Goley’s core philosophy about the importance of community. "I always thought it was something that just happened automatically whenever the right conditions were present," he said. "I was wrong. It takes work, and doesn’t happen automatically, even in the best conditions. You must be absolutely intentional about building community. Community is a shared pool of goodwill that is constantly being drawn from and added to by that group. In tough times we draw from the pool to generate a spirit of cooperation, and we replenish it by supporting each other in our struggles. Community is not some fluffy ideal that has no practical use in our society -- it is essential to our survival."
Goley plans to stay at Virginia Tech for an MS in electrical engineering, while continuing to work on solar energy research. Eventually, he hopes to lead his own research group.
For the inquisitiveness that has inspired Goley to embrace a life-long commitment to intellectual development, he is recognized with an Aspire! Award for curiosity.