Symposium 2016

Entrepreneurship and Novel Technologies in Energy


"Energy Research, Education and Entrepreneurship at CMU: the Role of the Scott Institute"

     Jared L. Cohon  President Emeritus; University Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering & Engineering and Public Policy; and Director, Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University


Jared L. Cohon
President Emeritus; University Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering & Engineering and Public Policy; and Director, Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University

Jared L. Cohon (NAE), Ph.D. is University Professor in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy and President Emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University.  He also serves as Director of the university’s Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. He served as the President of Carnegie Mellon from 1997 to 2013.  He was a Professor of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, from 1973 to 1992, where he also served as Vice Provost for Research from 1986 to 1992, Associate Dean of Engineering from 1983 to 1986, and Assistant Dean of Engineering from 1981 to 1983. Following his tenure at Johns Hopkins, he served as Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Professor of Environmental Systems Analysis at Yale University from 1992 to 1997. Dr. Cohon also served as Legislative Assistant for Energy and Environment on the staff of U.S. Senator Moynihan from 1977 to 1978.  In January 1995, Dr. Cohon was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. In 1997, he assumed the role of Chairman of the Board, a position he held until 2002.  He was appointed by President George W. Bush and reappointed by President Barack Obama to the Homeland Security Advisory Council on which he served from 2002 to 2013.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, he has served on several committees and boards for the National Academies and the federal government.  He chaired the committee that produced the 2010 report, “The Hidden Costs of Energy.”  From 2012 to 2015, he chaired the Committee on the Fuel Economy of Light Duty Vehicles, Phase II.” In 2014 and 2015, he co-chaired the congressionally mandated Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories.  Dr. Cohon serves on the boards of three public companies and four non-profit organizations including the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which he chairs.

Dr. Cohon is a national authority on environmental and water resource systems analysis and is the author, co-author or editor of more than 80 professional publications. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master's Degree and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Opening Remarks

    Jim Garrett  Dean, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Jim Garrett
Dean, College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

James H. Garrett, Jr. was appointed Dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2013.  He also holds the Thomas Lord Professorship of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Prior to becoming Dean, Garrett was Head of Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering from June 2006 to December 2012.  He is a founding co-director of the Smart Infrastructure Institute (formerly the Pennsylvania Smarter Infrastructure Incubator), a research center aimed at creating and evaluating sensing, data analytics and intelligent decision support for improving the construction, management and operation of infrastructure systems.  Garrett served as Co-Chief Editor of the ASCE Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering from 2008-2013.  Garrett’s research and teaching interests are oriented toward applications of sensors and sensor systems to civil infrastructure condition assessment; application of data mining and machine learning techniques for infrastructure management problems in civil and environmental engineering; mobile hardware/software systems for field applications; representations and processing strategies to support the usage of engineering codes, standards, and specifications; knowledge-based decision support systems.  Garrett has published his research in over 60 refereed journals, over 80 refereed conference papers, over 90 other conference papers and 10 sections or chapters in books or monographs.

Novel Technologies in Energy Panel


Costa Samaras  Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Costa Samaras
Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Costa Samaras is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His research spans energy, climate change, infrastructure and defense analysis. Costa analyzes how energy technology and infrastructure system designs affect energy use and national security, resiliency to climate change impacts, economic and innovation outcomes, and life cycle environmental externalities.  

Costa is also an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the RAND Corporation and a Professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He served on a National Academies Committee evaluating the Department of Energy's advanced transportation energy research portfolio, serves on the Transportation Research Board's Alternative Transportation Fuels and Technologies Committee, and is an editorial board member of the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. He also is a Leadership and Excellence in Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional with a building design and construction specialty.


Paul DeCotis     Director Energy & Utilities practice,  West Monroe Partners

Paul DeCotis
Director Energy & Utilities practice, West Monroe Partners

Paul DeCotis is a Director at West Monroe Partners within the Energy and Utilities practice. Paul has extensive experience in power marketing in his tenure with Long Island Power Authority as both Vice President of Power Markets and Managing Director of Contract Oversight. Paul has led and completed over $10 billion in power purchase agreements, initiated option and process for repowering of base-load and peaking generation, developed plans for new distributed generation, storage, demand-response, and “feed-in-tariff” and central station renewable energy resources. Paul has extensive governmental experience, serving as Deputy Secretary for Energy, advising two New York Governors. He chaired the State Energy Planning Board and was a member of the New York City Energy Planning Board. Paul founded the Governor’s Clean Energy Collaborative,led establishment of the State’s clean energy portfolio standard, and the New York Battery and Energy Storage Consortium, among other progressive initiatives. Paul holds a BS in International Business Management, an MA in Economics, and an MBA in Finance and Management Studies.  Read Paul's Vitae

Ed Minasian , Head of Product Development,    Shell TechWorks

Ed Minasian, Head of Product Development, Shell TechWorks

Ed Minasian, Head of Commercialization and Deployment joined Shell in May 2013 as the Head ofProduct Development of Shell TechWorks Boston, an innovation center positioned to leverage theBoston area innovation ecosystem—including universities, research institutions, entrepreneurs,investors and partners in aerospace, defense, medical and IT—to accelerate the deployment of technology solutions in Shell’s business units. Before joining the Shell TechWorks management team, Ed had spent 5 years with EMC Company, where he served as Principle Product Manager for a Cloud based storage system in a newly formed organization within EMC chartered to leverage innovation and think“out of the box” to drive more aggressive launch schedules. Mr. Minasian has spent over ten years in product management roles, and brings over 20 years of experience in design, integration, quality assurance, sales engineering roles in technology based organizations, ten years of which were spent in startup environments.  Ed has a BSEE from WPI, where he also completed graduate level courses inEE/Communications.

John Vernacchia  Segment Manager, Alternative Energy  Eaton

John Vernacchia
Segment Manager, Alternative Energy

John Vernacchia is the Global Segment Manager for Renewable Energy solutions within Eaton's electrical business. Vernacchia has 35 years of experience in marketing, sales, product management and operations and has played a major role in the development of Eaton’s Renewable Energy solutions to help customers connect solar, wind and energy storage resources to buildings and the utility grid. Vernacchia is a member of the IEEE Industry Applications and Power & Energy Societies and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

Jay Zhao    Senior Building Science Engineer  Lutron Electronics, Inc.

Jay Zhao
Senior Building Science Engineer
Lutron Electronics, Inc.

Dr. Jay Zhao is a Senior Building Science Engineer in the Energy Information and Analytics group at Lutron Electronics. He conducts applied research on quantifying energy and human benefits for lighting and shading controls product development, and also translate research outcome into marketing and sales tools. He received his Ph.D. in Building Performance & Diagnostics from Carnegie Mellon University, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Engineering from Tongji University in China. He has seven years of research experience in energy efficient technologies of HVAC, lighting, shading, plug load, renewable systems, as well as human behavior and their energy impact on the built environment. He published 20+ research papers, presented at 15+ international and national conferences, and served as a reviewer/judge for top journals and conferences in the building science field. He was also an experienced consultant to several green building design projects in the US and abroad.

Entrepreneurship in Energy Panel


Yoosuf Picard    Associate Research Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Yoosuf Picard
Associate Research Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Yoosuf Picard is an Associate Research Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering department at Carnegie Mellon University. Picard's research utilizes advanced microscopy methods to study microstructural evolution and defect dynamics in functional materials. This research spans defect-property correlations in photovoltaics and fuel cells, materials processing by energy efficient manufacturing methods, defect influence on memory storage technologies and radiation damage behavior for structural materials in nuclear applications.


Dan Hochman    Pilot Manager,  Sealed

Dan Hochman
Pilot Manager, Sealed

Dan Hochman is currently the Pilot Manager at Sealed, a residential energy savings firm basedin New York. Sealed leverages the longterm cashflow streams generated from suburban weatherization work to expand access and grow the appetite for American energy efficiency investment. He was the recipient of Breaking Energy's ‘Young New York Energy Leader’ in 2013,and his area of expertise is in energy efficiency and energy policy. Dan is an alumnus of the Energy Science, Technology and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Matthew Maroon    Vice President, Product Management,  Aquion Energy

Matthew Maroon
Vice President, Product Management, Aquion Energy

Matthew Maroon joined Aquion Energy in early 2014 bringing with him over 10 years of experience scaling new energy storage electrochemistries from the laboratory into commercial products. Matt has abroad technical background in a variety of energy storage chemistries including: Aqueous Hybrid Ion, advanced lead acid, lithium ion, ultra capacitors, and sodium nickel chloride. Matt’s professional background ranges from directing startup research and development teams to international business development and sales with an emphasis on product management and commercializing new technologies. Prior to joining Aquion Energy, Matt was the Director of Product Management for GE’s Durathon product line. Before GE, Matt worked at two energy storage start-ups: EnerG2, an advanced materials company targeting high performance carbons for electrochemical devices; and Firefly Energy where he was one of the original inventors of the advanced carbon foam lead acid battery technology.Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Bradley University.

Troy Geanopulos is currently the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Efficiency Network, Inc. (TEN), a tech-enabled provider of building efficiency services headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. At TEN, Troy is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy, developing a highly efficient indirect selling approach, and leads the strategic direction for TEN’s disruptive business model.

Prior to TEN, Troy was the Senior Vice President for Constellation Energy, a Fortune 200 energy company headquartered in Baltimore, MD. At Constellation, Troy introduced and implemented a scalable business development process, developed and successfully executed a high-growth government market penetration strategy, assembled an entirely new sales leadership team, and launched an innovative sales training model.

Prior to this role at Constellation, Troy founded CLT Efficient Technologies Group (CLT), a privately owned regional leader in the field of energy efficiency solutions. Headquartered in Carnegie, PA, CLT was acquired by Constellation Energy in 2009.

As Chief Executive Officer of CLT, Troy expanded the company’s core offerings and geographic markets to offer comprehensive energy efficiency services. In doing so, he created a business plan and obtained investor funding to launch CLT and to successfully compete against very large national firms on the basis of value and superior service.  CLT retained top talent and secured dozens of marquee customers.  Under Troy’s leadership grew revenues from $1M to $34.6M in eight years, an average 36% annual growth.

Other key accomplishments of CLT under Mr. Geanopulos’ direction include accreditation as an Energy Services Company (ESCO) by the Federal Department of Energy, and as a qualified ESCO in various states. CLT also obtained a coveted $100M  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Indefinite Delivery / Indefinite Quantity Contract (IDIQ) and acquired ESCO qualification status by the National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO).

Greg Puschnigg is the Founder and CEO of BOSS Controls, a commercial IoT company  in energy management and controls for buildings. Greg holds multiple patents and has held multiple senior executive positions in leading-edge technology companies including Ciena, AirFiber, Intel and Powercast.  As President of Powercast, he launched the world’s first commercial wireless power product with sales to multinational customers and won Best of Show for new emerging technology at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show. Before that, Greg launched Intel’s first two generations of Centrino, WiFi chips that are used around the world daily.  Greg began his career as an engineering officer in the US Navy, where he held TS/SCI clearances. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and received his M.B.A from Loyola College in Maryland.


Matthew Stanton    CEO and Co-Founder, SolePower

Matthew Stanton
CEO and Co-Founder, SolePower

An avid hiker, Matt Stanton is no stranger to the need of power while off the grid. This personal experience was on his mind while developing an energy harvesting shoe insert at Carnegie Mellon University. As a result, he decided to be a part of SolePower’s formation and bring forth a new and more reliable off-grid personal energy solution.

Closing Remarks

     David Landis  , Ph.D., P.E.  Executive Director, Energy Science, Technology and Policy


David Landis, Ph.D., P.E.
Executive Director, Energy Science, Technology and Policy

Dave Landis obtained his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University,MS in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and BS in Electrical Engineeringfrom Carnegie Mellon. Prior to joining CMU in 2010 he served the non-profit community for 10years as V.P. Education and Training at The Technology Collaborative and the Pittsburgh DigitalGreenhouse. He supported technology-based economic development programs by creating andmanaging professional development, workforce development, university curriculum andentrepreneurship programs. His previous faculty appointments included Professor of ElectricalEngineering at the University of South Florida and at Penn State. His industrial experienceincludes work at RCA’s Advanced Technology Laboratory and Honeywell’s Space SystemsGroup. Read more about Dr. Landis in his personal bio.

Networking Participants