In September 2014, 15 undergraduate and graduate student leaders were selected from a pool of over 75 applicants to this year’s Spark Clean Energy Fellowship. The Fellows convened in Berkeley, California and Cambridge, Massachusetts for the BERC Energy Summit and MIT Energy Conference respectively. Since October, four teams have been developing nonprofit programs and resources to support student energy innovators and entrepreneurs on campuses across the U.S. On February 26, 2015, at Harvard Business School, the Fellows presented and launched their projects.
The projects include 1) internship placements for students in growing cleantech companies, 2) a guide and sample curriculum for peer-to-peer energy education seminars, 3) best practice guides for collegiate energy clubs , and 4) an online repository for meetups, webinars, green drinks, and other relevant events.
JUmpstart Your Career in Clean Energy (JUCC-E)
Student leaders in the 2014 Spark Clean Energy Fellowship program have joined together to create a new career accelerator dubbed JUmpstart your Career in Clean Energy (JUCC-E). The four students, Christopher Frewin (Cornell University), Fernando Fuentes (Pennsylvania State University), Steve Hiltebeitel (Washington University at St. Louis), and Jennifer Williams (University of North Carolina/Duke University), brought their experience to the creation of this program, which connects exceptional students interested in clean energy to internships at growing companies. JUCC-E aims to become the most prestigious clean energy career accelerator in the nation. JUCC-E has conducted extensive outreach to identify companies engaged in energy entrepreneurship that would benefit from student internship engagement on specific projects. The accelerator then helps these affiliate companies to reach the best and brightest student applicants and provides stipends and support for these students before, during, and after their internships. These JUCC-E Fellows provide a national face and vision for the future of energy innovation both during their internships and as they return to campus with entrepreneurial experience.
Extracurricular Energy Seminars
Three undergraduate Spark Clean Energy Fellows, Chad Wong (New York University), Evan Petkov (University of Wisconsin-Madison), and Cody Warner (Northwestern University), have teamed up to create resources for collegiate energy clubs. The rapidly innovative field of clean energy demands that students understand the technical, social, and business aspects of the energy field. This team’s project aims to expand multidisciplinary energy conversation across college campuses.
At Northwestern University, in Evanston, IL, undergraduate and graduate students host seminars on the business, policy, and technology of energy. These “peer to peer” seminars are widely attended and provide a breadth of topics related to energy, engaging students from many fields. The Spark Clean Energy Fellows developed a 'do-it-yourself' guide for undergraduate and graduate energy clubs to cultivate their own seminars and discussions. Existing or developing clubs can implement such a seminar series, as it centers on not-for-credit, one-hour weekly meetings in a peer-to-peer discussion environment.
Reflective Energy: Energy Club Best Practices
John Romankiewicz (University of California, Berkeley), Sahas Singh (Georgia Tech), Parag Gupta (Northwestern University), and Davis Saltonstall (New York University) designed a resource they call “Reflective Energy”. The project has two parts: 1) a white paper on energy club best practices and 2) an online database of energy club profiles and activities. These materials will help energy clubs across the nation examine and increase their club’s impact. The Reflective Energy resources can be found here:
The white paper introduces methods that all energy clubs, new and old, could implement to map their university’s energy landscape and campus needs with respect to energy education and engagement. The document offers ideas for assessing and increasing a club’s impact as well as strategies for organizational improvement to help club’s achieve their vision. It includes full case studies of energy clubs at University of California, Berkeley (the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative) and Georgia Tech (the Energy Club at Georgia Tech).
On the Reflective Energy website, each club profile contains information on the club's activities and structure, the university's regional context, and information about how the club plans to increase its impact. Student clubs can add their profiles to the page by downloading this template and emailing it to Parag Gupta (firstname.lastname@example.org). In the activities database, energy clubs from around the country can contribute ideas of potential events and programs and also get new ideas for such activities. Clubs can submit individual activities for the database using this form.
“Nexus”: Professional Development Resources for Students in Energy
The fellowship team, comprised of Maria Jiang (Cornell University), Doug Stiegler (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Deep Shah (The Ohio State University), and Lauren Shum (Duke University), teamed up to further Spark’s mission of empowering the next generation of clean energy leaders. They have developed a website that organizes and presents curated professional development resources for college students in a simple, chronologically sorted website. The website informs students of opportunities to learn, engage and network with energy experts, industry professionals, and like-minded students. The site features career resources such as conferences, competitions, webinars, workshops, local events, and professional programs. The site will soon be sortable for students to narrow down results to particular event types, locations, and sectors. This professional development resource for students interested clean energy simplifies the search for those looking to engage in the industry and allow them allows students to expand their networks towards new and exciting careers.
If you or your organization is interested in featuring content on Spark Clean Energy’s resource tool, submit an inquiry at http://www.sparkcleanenergy.org/contact.html. Content is aggregated from internet sources or by direct submission and curated by a Spark Clean Energy staffer.
Release Date: February 2nd, 2015 email@example.com
Ecoviate Launches App to Redefine Consumer Sustainability
Washington, DC “We are building a cleaner planet by changing the entire incentive structure behind sustainability.” said Param Jaggi, CEO of Ecoviate.
The Ecoviate app gives users rewards and discounts for living an ecofriendly life. The app is available on both iOS and Android. Ecoviate has partnered with, mobilerewards company, Kiip to provide users with rewards and discounts from some of the most popular brands in the country.
Here's how it works:
1. Snap: take a picture or video of something ecofriendly
2. Post: upload the picture on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
3. Redeem: get rewards and discounts for living a green life
The more green and ecofriendly you are, the more points you get. As you reach ecomilestones, you get better and better rewards. The app allows you to fully customize and edit your picture or video, post on to a variety of social media accounts, and provides discounts from some of the most popular brands around the world. It's really straightforward.
“Being ecofriendly and living sustainably is so expensive. We are changing that. Live green, save money, change the world.” said Jaggi.
Ecoviate is redefining sustainability with both hardware and software solutions. Founded in 2013, the company hopes to create a culture that gives positive reinforcement to green living. After launching the Ecoviate app, the company will be focusing on our patented hardware technologies with some bigname partners. More details soon!
Param Jaggi (CEO): 20 years old. 2012 & 2013 Forbes “30 Under 30: Energy”.
Jonny Cohen (Chief Scientist): 19 years old. 2012 & 2013 Forbes “30 Under 30: Energy”.
Want a deeper story? Ecoviate is quite unique and has interesting things to say about the future of sustainability. Contact Param Jaggi @paramjaggi directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (214) 2801178.
Tech savvy: eRespond
BY STEPHEN LACEY
POSTED MARCH 13, 2015
Can startups like eRespond bring fresh ideas to utilities?
Utilities in North America are facing an aging problem on two fronts: aging infrastructure and an aging workforce. Can a new generation of entrepreneurs and engineers help utilities address both?
The Canadian Electricity Association estimates Canada will need to spend nearly $294 billion by 2030 to upgrade old equipment and accommodate more distributed resources. The American Society of Civil Engineers says the U.S. needs a $94-billion upgrade by 2020 in order to modernize its grid. Meanwhile, in both countries, more than half of the utility workforce is nearing retirement age.
In a positive sign for utilities, a growing number of “Millennials” are moving into the electric sector. Interested in addressing the complex challenges of decarbonization, grid resiliency and distributed energy integration, these young entrepreneurs and engineers are bringing new ways of thinking to a sector undergoing seismic changes.
That’s where a startup like eRespond comes in. Founded by three students at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, the company is developing a software platform that combines drone technology and social media aggregation to pinpoint outages quickly and manage the grid more effectively.
Many power companies use social media as a one-way communications tool to tell customers about outages; eRespond wants to use it as a way to identify the outages themselves. “Everyone is carrying a smart phone and using these outlets; yet very few are trying to create a centralized engagement platform for them,” said Payam Yeganeh, a master’s student at Marshall and one of eRespond’s co-founders.
The software analyzes all texts, emails, social media messages and telephone calls coming into a utility in order to gain insights into where outages are occurring, and then communicates targeted messages back to customers. The tool also analyzes images from unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and compares them to messages from the field. In theory, it could be used by utilities with limited advanced metering infrastructure.
“There’s been a lack of solutions in the space. The more we look at it, the more we realize it’s needed. Social media today is not effectively used at all as a two-way communications channel. We enable that,” said Yeganeh, who worked in the utility sector for a decade before enrolling in graduate studies.
The idea emerged from student competition run by the non-profit business incubator Spark Clean Energy, based out of Chicago, Illinois. The competition, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s innovation arm, ARPA-E, identified grid management problems faced by utilities and then challenged graduate students to create the solutions. First place went to eRespond, giving it the chance to validate its software with ComEd and Exelon, two major U.S. utilities.
If it gains traction, eRespond would come into a crowded market where big grid engineering firms such as ABB, GE and Siemens are developing products designed to tie meters, outage management systems and social media together to boost grid resilience. But utility adoption has been modest so far, and no single company has market dominance.
Mark Silberg, executive director of Spark Clean Energy, believes there are lots of ideas brewing among young business leaders that could change energy markets. He compared the competition to the XPrize, which puts aside monetary rewards for entrepreneurs to solve “unsolvable” challenges.
“There are a lot of ideas incubating outside traditional businesses. Our role is to democratize access to these resources and pull in new talent,” said Silberg.
Spark has supported numerous other student-led startups addressing similar challenges, including rare earth recycling, realtime residential energy analytics, and a completely new control infrastructure designed to decentralize the grid.
This type of competition is not just beneficial for funding new ideas, it’s also important for attracting the next generation of talent for utilities shedding legacy workers.
In a 2013 report on the changing utility landscape, the consultancy PwC outlined the importance of hiring younger workers, who “tend to be more tech savvy” and bring new ideas for building smart grid infrastructure and deploying renewable energy.
“A rapidly evolving workforce is re-shaping the risk profiles of America’s power and utilities,” wrote the PwC analysts. “One possible solution: a more systematic approach to capturing and keeping core know-how – and new ways of transmitting that knowledge to a younger generation.”
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22 contests seeking solutions to pressing climate change challenges
An open-submission forum for the student energy and clean tech community.