Carnegie Mellon University

Austin Energy & Cleantech Club Trek

May 01, 2020

Austin Cleantech Trek Features Renewable Energy Leaders

In January, members of the Energy & CleanTech Club traveled to Austin, Texas, to hear about the growing clean technology industry.

As an emerging hub of innovation in the areas of renewable energy and clean technology — an industry focused on reducing negative environmental impacts — Austin, Texas, was high on the list of locations for the second annual career trek hosted by the Energy & CleanTech Club at the Tepper School of Business. Nine students traveled with ECTC to Austin during their winter break in January to learn more about the industry and its career opportunities for MBA students and graduates.

"The Energy & CleanTech Club supplements Tepper's academic programs related to the energy business," said Chris Telmer, Associate Professor of Financial Economics, Head of Economics, who is one of the organization's academic advisers. "It helps students build a strong network in the energy industry and provides experience through case competitions and recruiting preparation."

CMU's Strengths in Energy

Tepper School alumnus Mas Ogiso (MBA 2010), President and CEO of Oriden, launched the Energy Club at the Tepper School a decade ago to address a growing interest in energy business among MBA students. Oriden is a sponsor of the capstone project that wraps up the Tepper School's Energy Business MBA Track, an elective course sequence that explores science, policy, and innovation in the energy sector. "A significant milestone in the program of energy at Tepper was the founding of the energy business track," second-year MBA student Nick Alexander said. "It's really legitimized the program in energy business, and that's been attracting a lot of students."

"Our generation and the incoming future classes of business leaders are growing more and more motivated to have jobs of purpose and doing well by doing good."

Alexander is president of the Energy & CleanTech Club, which rebranded from Ogiso's Energy Club last year. "We decided it was time to rebrand this club because 90% of us were interested in recruiting for renewable energy and cleantech jobs," Alexander said. "And we also wanted to leverage what Carnegie Mellon is great at as a premier technical institution. We have great programs in energy research and innovation, and the majority of that is pushing toward cleantech."

Alexander reported that ECTC saw a lot of interest from the incoming class of MBA students this year. "Our generation and the incoming future classes of business leaders are growing more and more motivated to have jobs of purpose and doing well by doing good," he said. "There are tons of students out there that want to get into cleantech and want to work in renewable energy, and now that we have established this at Tepper, we think that it's going to really help promote the university and give a place for students who want to break into that field."

Innovation Hub in Cleantech

For Tepper MBA students interested in cleantech, the Austin trek was a significant opportunity to learn about companies in the industry and about how MBA students and graduates can get involved. The club's first visit was to Austin Technology Incubator, an affiliate of the University of Texas supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Austin area, including those in energy and clean technology. While there weren't necessarily career opportunities associated with the visit, Alexander said, the organization offered valuable insights into the role incubators play in bring ideas into fruition.

Throughout the three days of company visits, ECTC members met with executives and corporate leaders at energy providers such as Austin Energy and energy developers such as Orsted and Recurrent Energy. "These are the companies that a lot of MBAs are trying to get jobs with, so it was really great," Alexander said. Recurrent Energy hires a lot of MBA graduates, he said, so the company was able to show what job opportunities exist with energy developers.

Orsted gave trek participants tickets to a networking event with the Austin chapter of Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy, a nationwide coalition of professionals committed to advancing women in the renewable energy industry. The event offered attendees the opportunity to make important contacts in the industry and meet people in Austin who may be hiring MBA graduates.

"There's this whole growing class of MBA students and prospective students around the country that are really trying to break into this industry," Alexander said. "This trek did a great job illustrating that there are really exciting companies out there, and they're hiring MBAs. This is something that's within our reach to pursue."