August 13, 2013

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Alex Schwarzkopf

Alex Schwarzkopf , Electromechanical Engineering, 2015

Co-op Employer:  Ambri Inc.

Co-op Position:  Mechanical Engineering Co-op

Hometown:  Old Saybrook, CT

No one has ever operated a battery at 500 degrees Celsius. A small Cambridge, Mass. startup hopes that doing so will change the future of renewable energy, and Alex Schwarzkopf wants to help make that happen. Schwarzkopf (Electromechanical Engineering ’15) is currently employed as a co-op at Ambri Inc., which is working on developing an electricity storage solution to enable more widespread use of renewable energy, reduce power prices, and increase system reliability— all through the use of liquid battery technology.

“Everything we do, we’re doing for the first time,” Schwarzkopf said. “We’re creating prototypes, breaking them, and then finding out why they failed.”

Schwarzkopf is one of 35 employees at the startup; a year ago, there were just five. He plays an integral role in the company, having designed components for a testbed(a giant furnace that holds test cells), and just recently, a showpiece to bring to trade shows and fairs that gives investors a tangible idea of what they’re investing in. Currently, everything being developed at Ambri is in prototype phase, but Schwarzkopf says the company hopes to release a product next year.

Schwarzkopf plans to continue to work in the startup community, a decision he largely attributes to his experiences at Ambri.

“I’m learning and always doing something new every day, as opposed to just sitting behind a desk, pushing papers,” Schwarzkopf said. “I have a new appreciation for what I’ve learned in the classroom, because I’ve been able to apply it to the real world.”

Schwarzkopf, who is minoring in entrepreneurship, hopes to get more involved in the business side of startups, and possibly even start his own.

“A startup is a fast-paced, exciting environment,” said Schwarzkopf. “Since they’re small, there’s this sense of community, which is something you can’t find in a large business.” He recently received funding through Wentworth’s Accelerate program for a business plan he and a friend created for a universal LED light, called the UrbanFlex, and is considering getting his master’s degree in business.

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