March 01, 2021
Eybpoosh’s Works to Improve Renewable Energy Reliability
When Matineh Eybpoosh (MS ‘12, PhD ‘15) was presented with the opportunity to co-found her own company, she jumped at the chance. Her entrepreneurial motivation led to the development of WattLearn Inc., a company that builds software for energy storage batteries—and by extension, increases the penetration of renewables across the electricity grid. Eybpoosh founded the company alongside fellow CMU alum Julian Lamy (EPP ‘16) and has led the company as its CEO since 2017.
Eybpoosh explains that WattLearn’s core capability is to use machine learning for optimal operation of grid-connected battery projects. “We are on track to operate multiple grid-scale batteries this year. These energy storage projects will help stabilize the impact of renewable energy generation on the grid, and therefore increase its resiliency and reliability,” she explains.
After gaining her BSc at Tabriz University of Iran, Eybpoosh continued her studies at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, Turkey. While there, she took a course where students from five different universities across the globe collaborated remotely. “The goal was to help students develop intercultural collaboration skills as they worked in remote teams on a project,” she says. Later, she volunteered to write an academic paper about this experience. Through writing this paper, she became connected to professors at CEE and applied to earn her Master’s and PhD.
“CMU felt like the right place for me,” Eybpoosh says. “I always say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
Throughout her graduate studies, Eybpoosh was focused on becoming an academic. “I really enjoy doing research, and teaching even more”, she says. But after completing an internship at Pittsburgh-based kWantera, she decided to apply her academic knowledge and skillsets to the issues faced in the industry. She began a career in data science, deepening her understanding of challenges in the energy domain. At the time, Eybpoosh didn’t have a plan to start her own business, but paid close attention to the different aspects of running a company and managing a team.
"Now that I look back, nothing could have better prepared me for the often diverse and multi-disciplinary problems out there. On the other hand, my instructors taught me how to become a good researcher, which I’ve found it to be a very important skill to have as an entrepreneur."
Leaving her role as the director of data science to launch WattLearn allowed Eybpoosh to have a “broader impact in addressing some of the pressing environmental and climate issues of our generations, while fulfilling an entrepreneurship passion.” After one year in Pittsburgh, the company moved to the Bay Area where it eventually had a successful exit through an acquisition.
During its journey, WattLearn has been recognized as one of the front runner startups in the field, winning first place in CMU’s 2017 TransTech Energy Business Development Competition. The company was also invited to present at the Energy Storage Summit 2017, won the People’s Choice Award as the best energy startup at Plug & Play innovation platform, and was a finalist startup presenter at the VERGE 18 conference.
Eybpoosh says that her education at CEE was instrumental in helping her in both business and engineering. “At CEE, you are always encouraged to participate in multi-disciplinary projects and courses. Now that I look back, nothing could have better prepared me for the often diverse and multi-disciplinary problems out there. On the other hand, my instructors taught me how to become a good researcher, which I’ve found it to be a very important skill to have as an entrepreneur. They would not accept anything less, so I had to live up to their standards if I wanted to graduate.”
She adds that CEE taught her to always look at the complete picture. “I learned how to ask the right questions that would lead me to a true problem. Only after that could I look for the solution.”
This story demonstrates CMU's work toward attaining Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the 17 Global Goals to create a more equitable and viable planet by 2030.