Always energized: Robert Gilleskie teaches sustainability

Robert Gilleskie believes in "things that make sense," a fitting trait for a highly trained engineer who’s spent much of his life studying energy uses and conservation.


Robert Gilleskie, Environmental Sustainability Assessment Practicum

That’s why, back in 1995, he proposed a start-up course at UC San Diego Extension based on sustainability energy.

Nearly two decades later, that course is now part of the Sustainable Business Practices certificate with the concepts of environmental stewardship woven into business and everyday life.

“Back then, some people thought it was just a passing fad,” said Gilleskie. "But of course, it’s now in the forefront."

A Naval Academy graduate who served seven years as a Naval line officer, including stints as a senior advisor on river boats in the Mekong Delta, Gilleskie believes strongly in water and energy conservation. He’s also convinced about the growing negative effects of climate change on the earth’s atmosphere.

“To me, the numbers are so clear, I can’t do anything else but believe that we’re going down a bad road,” he said. “For me, it’s not emotional, it’s factual. The numbers make eminent sense.”

Gilleskie’s credentials include energy-related roles with SDG&E (for 22 years), Tetra Tech and Naval Base Point Loma and the San Diego-based California Center for Sustainable Energy as director of engineering.

Currently, he serves as regional energy manager for eight regional Marine bases, including Camp Pendleton.

Over the years, his teaching approach has changed to adapt to his students’ needs.

“When I started, I was much more rigid, more demanding,” he said. “I’ve since become much more practical, asking myself, what does this student need to know?”

Away from work, Gilleskie has an exceptionally high energy level.

“I’m almost neurotic about exercise,” he said. “I used to be a crazy swimmer, but now I’m a crazy spinner, hiker, cyclist and walker.”

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