SOLAR 2013: Young Professionals Plenary!

This year at SOLAR 2013 marked the first time that special events were held for young professionals in renewable energy (YPIRE)!

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We are very excited about the turnout and success of these events. The Young Professionals kicked off their events on Tuesday night with a successful opening reception. Drinks and appetizers were provided and the buzz about the upcoming conference was strong. On Thursday night a forum was held featuring a panel of inspiring young people speaking about their experiences transitioning into renewable energy and sustainability.

Lucas Witmer, co-founder and former president of the Penn State ASES chapter, served as the moderator of the forum. Lucas is a PhD student in Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State, with his research focusing on leveraging in solar gains of building facades through informed building energy management systems.

Alex Kim and Thomas Krizner of Enphase Energy joined us tonight to share their experience from an engineering perspective. (Tom) talked about his transition into the solar industry as an older “young professional” in the business.

Mike Seager of MicroGrid told a very interesting story of the process he underwent to be where he is now in the power systems engineering industry. Mike went to school for music and pursued that as his career, living in various cities for years. He decided to go back to school for engineering, and is happy he chose to go the route towards the growing renewable and solar industry.

Ed Davis, a senior analyst for project finance at First Solar spoke about his unique path to arrive where he is today. Ed worked for a number of various financial companies before landing at the position he holds now where he can pursue his passion for solar and renewable energy. Mikhail Naumov, a founder of the GREEN program (Global Renewable Energy Education Network), shared with us his amazing entrepreneurial experiences. GREEN is a program that allows college students to travel abroad to Costa Rica and Iceland to gain valuable hands-on experience with renewable energy. The program launched in 2009 and has expanded tremendously since; it was awarded first place at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards Regional Competition in May of 2012. Mikhail speaks about his career efforts with a sense of passion and commitment.

Ariel Braude, our own Community Manager for ASES, was the last to share her story on the panel. Still a recent graduate from the University of Colorado, Ariel has already had valuable experience working in the renewable industry. She discusses the many opportunities within the industry, specifically from the perspective of working in a non-profit.

It was a pleasure to listen to and interact with these young professionals at the forum. They took time to answer questions and left us with a few pieces of advice:

  • network, network, network
  • accept and be open to change
  • know how to communicate with people on all levels
  • find a company that fits who you want to become
  • don’t be afraid to try new things
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