In Print


Not your great granddaddy's electric car


It's taken more than a century, but the auto industry is about to come full circle. Introduced in the 1890s, electric vehicles (EVs) soon eclipsed gasoline cars in popularity. By the end of the decade, EVs outsold gasoline cars 10 to 1. The trend did not hold. Henry Ford's gas-powered Model T appeared in 1908, igniting the century-long reign of the internal combustion engine. But, according to James Billmaier '77, EVs are poised to dominate once more—this time for the long haul.

Billmaier, a Silicon Valley veteran with three decades of experience in the computer systems and software industries, is the author of the just-released JOLT! (Advantage, 2010), a primer on the coming dominance of the electric car. An unabashed EVs enthusiast, Billmaier does have a stake in the outcome he prophesizes; he's a founding partner of Charge Northwest, a company focused on hardware, software, and consulting solutions for charging EVs. But he is also a reliable guide for consumers seeking answers before deciding to invest in the first wave of the new generation of EVs—the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt or all-electric Nissan LEAF—or those to follow.

One of the strengths of JOLT! is in dispelling myths that threaten to slow the adoption of EVs. Billmaier raises, and deftly dispatches, nagging questions: Won't EVs merely swap emissions at the tailpipe for emissions from a (likely coal-fired) smokestack? Aren't EVs much more expensive than gas-powered cars? Will an EV leave me stranded roadside? Won't EVs overload the electricity grid? The answer in each case, writes Billmaier, is a resounding "No." Take just one: cost. After the (for now) higher upfront cost, which is offset by government tax incentives, EVs are cheaper to maintain—with 70 percent fewer parts than gas-powered cars, and no smog checks or oil changes either—and cheaper to drive each mile. At $3 a gallon for gas and 10.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity (the average U.S. price), "a highly efficient gas-powered car getting 30 miles to the gallon costs around 10 cents per mile; an EV running on electricity costs just 2.5 cents per mile," writes Billmaier. And it's a cost differential that will only grow as oil becomes scarcer and batteries cheaper over the next couple of decades.

Billmaier is confident that within the next 20 years all of us will be driving electric cars. "Electric vehicles are our future no matter who builds them," he says—but he also believes smart incentives can speed their adoption in the United States and ensure we don't cede market advantage to competitors such as China. In the last chapter, Billmaier outlines the "JOLT Program for America," a policy framework for government, business, and consumers that aims to have 100 million electric cars on the road by 2020. Get the incentives right, Billmaier believes, and the market will flip. He predicts electric cars will make up 60 percent of all new car sales by 2030.

"By 2021," he writes, "there will be no reason not to buy an EV."

Justin Gerdes

Web Exclusive: Read Justin Gerdes' interview with Billmaier

Stop Street Harassment

There's a story that Holly Kearl '05 shares about the time she spent volunteering at a domestic-violence shelter in Santa Clara. Walking from campus to the shelter, she writes, "Men routinely honked and hollered at me … As I was walking, I was talking to my father on the phone, and he heard one of the men and asked in surprise if he was targeting me. I said yes, almost dismissively, and said it always happened. My father sounded shocked." Readers of Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women (Praeger, 2010) are likewise in for some disturbing stories—ranging from leers and "hey baby" comments to stalking and rape. Sobering statistics are here to bolster the reports, including the fact that up to "80 percent of women around the world face at least occasional unwanted, harassing attention in public places from men they do not know; some women face it daily." Kearl, who earned degrees in history and women's and gender studies at SCU before completing a master's at George Washington University, thanks Associate Professor of History Nancy Unger in the acknowledgments for her counsel. Kearl is a program manager at the American Association of University Women, and she was back on campus this fall to discuss her book as part of the 30th anniversary of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies.

Steven Boyd Saum

Web Exclusive: Read an excerpt from Stop Street Harassment

The World of Wolves

The World of Wolves (University of Calgary Press, 2010), co-edited by Paul C. Paquet '70, brings together new scholarship on the ecology, behavior, and management of wolves in semi-natural environments, with particular interest in contributing "to the examination of the human/wolf interface … to ease conflict and promote the coexistence of wolves and humans." An essay by Paquet describes the integral role wolves play in sustaining ecological systems; he also uses the species to flush out larger ecological issues related to human impact on nature.

Jon Teel '12

God, Science, Sex, Gender

God, Science, Sex, Gender: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Christian Ethics (University of Illinois Press, 2010), co-edited by Patricia Beattie Jung '71, assembles scholarly essays from disciplines including anthropology, sociology, psychology, theology, and ethics. Two of Jung's essays reflect on issues of patriarchy, purity, and procreativity throughout the ages to develop an understanding of how the Church formed its teachings. Highlighted are the ways in which social issues, technology, and the Church mutually influence one another to create the traditional Church teaching of gender and sexuality.

Liz Carney '11

Censored 2010

Censored 2010: The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008-09 (Seven Stories Press, 2009), edited by Peter Phillips '70 and Mickey Huff, is the latest installment from Project Censored. This year's entries include "Secret Control of Presidential Debates" and "U.S. Congress Sells out to Wall Street." One message that comes through: Well-written journalism starts from the bottom up, with those willing to seek out the truth, forgetting party lines or ideological conflicts, and caring deeply about freedom of information.

Justine Macauley '10

The Haunting of Charles Dickens

When Meg Pickel's older brother, Orion, disappears on a snowy London night, Meg sets out to roam the city's streets in search of him. Thus begins The Haunting of Charles Dickens (Feiwel and Friends, 2010), the latest young-adult novel from Lewis Buzbee '79. Young Meg happens upon a séance—which she believes may be related to her brother's disappearance—and crosses paths with Charles Dickens, a family friend who is also troubled by the disappearances of many of the city's children. The two join forces in hopes of solving the mystery. Buzbee's previous books have garnered honors including a Smithsonian Notable Book award. He teaches writing at the University of San Francisco.

Liz Carney '11

90 Days to Success in Consulting

90 Days to Success in Consulting (Course Technology, 2010), by William McKnight MBA '94, provides a step-by-step action plan to grow a consulting practice in a competitive industry. Advice includes: Treat clients with the utmost respect, take care of employees, and give back to those around you when you are successful. McKnight is president of McKnight Consulting Group and has worked with more than 100 corporate clients worldwide.

Kellie Quist '10

An Introduction to Standards-Based Reflective Practice for Middle and High School Teaching

Joseph A. Braun '69 co-authored An Introduction to Standards-Based Reflective Practice for Middle and High School Teaching (Teachers College Press, 2010), which uses life experiences to illustrate ideas on how to be more reflective during the teaching process. The book outlines a set of principles to consider as a teacher constructs his or her identity in the classroom, strives to understand students, develops a learning curriculum, evaluates student learning, and ultimately creates conditions in which students can learn most effectively.

Jon Teel '12

Twenty years ago, psychotherapist Alexandra Kennedy '75 used her expertise in grief counseling to craft Losing a Parent: Passage to a New Way of Living (HarperCollins, 1991). That book went on to become a bestseller; meanwhile Kennedy's own explorations took her through grief and loss while seeking what she describes as the Divine Feminine. Now comes her third book, How Did I Miss All This Before? Waking Up to the Magic of Our Ordinary Lives (iUniverse, 2010). Instead of hearing claps of thunder, Kennedy says, the process of awakening involves being fully present to life as it is right now. Kennedy has served on the faculty of John F. Kennedy University and U.C. Santa Cruz Extension, and her writing has been featured in USA Today, Mothering Magazine, and elsewhere.

Steven Boyd Saum

The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens

Gina M. Biegel M.A. '05 wrote The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness Skills to Help You Deal with Stress (Instant Help Books, 2009) and released the audio CD Mindfulness for Teens: Meditation Practices to Reduce Stress and Promote Well-Being. Both provide exercises to challenge teenagers to conceptualize and apply mindfulness to combat anxiety and stress. Biegel works as a psychotherapist for adolescents, children, and families.

Liz Carney '11

JFK and the Unspeakable

Now out in paperback: JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (Touchstone, 2010) by James W. Douglass '60. As this magazine noted when the hardback edition was published in 2008, Douglass has written a tour de force about Kennedy's transformation from cold warrior to striver for peace. Weighing in with their own praise for Douglass' book are James Bradley (author of Flags of Our Fathers), director Oliver Stone, and actor Martin Sheen, who urges: "This disturbing, enlightening, and ultimately inspiring book should be read by all Americans. It has the power to change our lives and to set us free."

Steven Boyd Saum

Web Exclusive: Read SCM's review of Douglass' book in our Fall 2008 edition

Spring 2011

See all articles from this issue


Life cycle

Luminous beauty and the delight of discovery in a photo essay by Susan Middleton '70.

The Pause for Coz

A much-beloved Jesuit, Fr. Richard Coz touched the lives of generations of Broncos—who established a scholarship in his honor with the goal of raising $1 million.

Mission Matters

Here's the plan.

It’s a new strategic vision for Santa Clara University. And a road map for the years ahead.

Taking innovations to scale

An inaugural conference on the Mission Campus draws the best of the Tech Awards. The goal: Take brilliant ideas, then replicate.

Bronco Profile

Man in motion

Rich McGuinness ’89 is a football force to be reckoned with. He’s the man behind The Ride and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

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