Jay Whitacre Trustee Professor in Energy; Director, The Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University

Talk Title: "The Criticality of Technical Honesty in Growing Energy Technology Companies: How Even the Best Intentions Can Lead to Ruin"
Thursday, February 10, 5:00pm: Stackhouse Theater

Watch Jay Whitacre's talk

"In this talk I will discuss the ethical challenges encountered by leaders in small and growing energy technology firms that must show progress to survive and so face temptations misleading investors and/or customers when progress is slow (which is common). I will offer personal experiences and reflections from the energy storage world and suggest ethical best-practices to avoid conflict or worse."

Jay Whitacre's work focuses on developing and analyzing new materials and systems for electrochemical energy storage and conversion. He also studies the policy aspects of materials and technologies for the energy sector, such as the economics of scaled production, lifecycle analyses (including analyzing the energy footprint of manufacturing energy-related products), the implications of broad adoption of new energy technologies, large-scale energy storage devices, and concurrent engineering analyses of power systems.

Whitacre has authored or co-authored over 110 articles and is listed as an inventor on over 35 patents that are issued or pending. In 2008 he founded Aquion Energy, which brought to market a new non-toxic energy storage product that provides long-term storage of energy from solar, wind and other intermittent sources at a low cost. Aquion was acquired in 2017, and the technology lives on in a European venture, Bluesky Energy. Whitacre has since served as the Director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at CMU while also continuing to conduct research. He was listed as one of the top 25 Eco-Innovators in the world by Fortune Magazine in 2014 and was the 2015 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Innovation.

Whitacre earned a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Michigan. Prior to joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, he was a senior member of the technical staff at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was trained as a systems engineer and became a member of several mission design groups, as well as the Mars Science Laboratory development team.