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Energy Scholars Spotlight: Evan, Dena, and Dada

LevelTen News
November 15, 2022

This summer, LevelTen Energy hosted its second Energy Scholars mentorship program: a comprehensive initiative designed to address the energy sector’s opportunity gap by providing college students from underrepresented backgrounds with a fully-paid clean energy educational experience. In collaboration with our stellar partner organizations — Energy GPS, Vestas Steelhead America, Microsoft, Google, and the University of Washington — the Energy Scholars program provides an immersive curriculum for ambitious students looking to break into the cleantech space. To learn more about the program, click here

We wanted to take a moment to highlight this year’s ten amazing Energy Scholars and recognize them for their hard work. We sat down with scholars Evan Peterson, Dena Omar, and Dada Matiti to learn more about their journey so far and their time as Energy Scholars.

Evan Peterson

Evan Peterson joins our 2022 Energy Scholar program as a senior studying Material Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Evan has been interested in renewable energy since his first AP Environmental Science class in high school. After graduation, he plans to continue learning more about the industry by working at cleantech startups, before one day building his own company. 

What drew you to renewable energy?

Growing up, I always had a huge appreciation and love for the outdoors, and I knew I wanted to protect the environment. I grew up in an area that was not particularly supportive of the renewable energy industry, but I have always been intrigued by the technology. I began my time at UW as an Environmental Science major. Eventually, I switched to Material Science and Engineering after meeting professors who helped me find renewables.

Why did you apply to the Energy Scholars program?

I applied because I knew I wanted to develop my network and build industry skills and knowledge.

So far, what has been your favorite part of the program?

Going to Portland to visit Vestas Steelhead was an amazing experience. I have also really enjoyed learning from the various program speakers, and all of the activities we have done as interns. Although I fall on the more introverted side, I have really liked spending time with the other Energy Scholars.

Do you have any advice for future participants?

Make an effort to build relationships with everyone, and be sure to follow up with everyone you get the opportunity to meet.

What has been your favorite thing about Seattle/Fremont?

I enjoyed going to the karaoke bar with the other Energy Scholars, and loved our visit to the beach at Golden Gardens.

Dena Omar 

Dena Omar is a junior at Bennington College in Vermont, where she majors in Physics and Computer Science with a minor in Math. While growing up in Cairo, Egypt, Dena attended a STEM-focused high school where she was able to explore and expand her love of science, technology, math, and analytics. She first heard about the Energy Scholars program from a classmate and 2021 Energy Scholars graduate. 

What was your experience in renewable energy before LevelTen?

Like most people my age, I’ve always thought the renewable industry was exciting. Before becoming an Energy Scholar, I had some surface-level information on clean energy, but did not have any real experience with the industry. I learned about the program after speaking with a Bennington classmate who had been an Energy Scholar in 2021. After doing some more research, I saw that the renewable energy industry offered almost limitless career opportunities, and jobs that are a good match for my focus areas at school. From the software tools needed in wind turbine manufacturing and automation, to the coding behind the LevelTen platform, software, coding, and technology inherently exist throughout the renewable energy industry. Since my experience as an Energy Scholar, I have learned just how true this is!

What are your career hopes post-graduation?

I’ve always been interested in technology, which has kicked off a revolutionary era for humans. We have seen many tech booms throughout history, and they always fundamentally change everything about how we behave and how we live. 

I enjoy research and working in the lab, but realized this wasn’t the right fit for my lifestyle. I really want a career that utilizes soft skills like communication, negotiation, and leadership, that allows me to always have a positive impact on the greater community, and that drives impact by using STEM skills. In the short term, I would love to focus on product management in tech and clean energy. Eventually, I’d like to transition into entrepreneurship in tech and clean energy as a long-term goal. I feel that renewables are a good match for these goals.

So far, what has been your favorite part of the program?

In this program, I have been able to talk to people in the industry to better understand how people got to their positions and what positions might interest me. I want to pursue a career in entrepreneurship, so I have really valued getting to know all of my peers, hearing from all of our speakers, and practicing networking with industry professionals. 

Do you have any advice for future participants?

You will never grow in your comfort zone, so try to get out of it as much as you can. Be outspoken, and let everyone see how great you are. Believe in yourself because how you think about yourself is how others will perceive you.

What has been your favorite thing in Seattle/Fremont?

I really enjoyed kayaking! All of the Scholars hung out during our off-hours. We went to game nights, movies, and out to eat and try new foods. I also enjoyed our trip to Portland, where we visited an amazing bookstore.

Update: As of September, Dena is a Product Management Intern at LevelTen Energy!

Dada Matiti

Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dada Matiti and his family have spent the last 11 years in Texas. He is currently a senior at Texas Tech University, completing his degree in Renewable Energy with a minor in Industrial Engineering.

What drew you to renewable energy?

My dad worked in petroleum engineering, and there was a lot of oil drilling in the area where I grew up. The drilling really affected the lake in our town, as the water became more and more contaminated: directly impacting my grandmother and her farm through contamination.

As an adult, I can look back and see the links between these events, fossil fuels, and climate change, but at the time, I could not explain it. Now, I can. We know we need to do something, and I am excited to use my degree to help create this change.

How does your experience with LevelTen play into your future plans?

I believe my experience with LevelTen will play a crucial role in my future plans. It gave me the opportunity to explore real-world problems in the field of energy. In my degree program, we learn a lot about the industry, but from a very broad perspective. We are exposed to both the business side and the technical side. Nearing graduation, I wanted to get a better and deeper understanding of what jobs were actually available in the renewable energy sector. Through the program, I had the chance to speak with experienced professionals in the wind and solar industry, which has given me deep insights into the renewable energy sector as I approach graduation.

What are your career hopes for post-graduation? 

I hope to join the renewable energy industry. I really enjoy the technical side, but I am open to any opportunities. I believe I will use both my background in engineering and renewable energy in my future career.

What has been your favorite thing in Seattle/Fremont?

I tried kayaking for the first time with the other scholars, and I am now planning to buy a kayak! I also took a day trip to Bainbridge Island. The island was so lovely and quiet. We got ice cream, and the ice cream shop owner had a map where visitors could mark where they were from. I got to be the first customer from Congo!

Do you believe you or someone you know is a good candidate for the 2023 Energy Scholars program? Keep an eye out for applications opening in Spring of next year!

LevelTen Energy

LevelTen Energy is the leading provider of renewable transaction infrastructure, delivering the marketplaces, software, automated analytics, and expertise required to accelerate clean energy transactions. The LevelTen Platform is the world’s largest online hub for renewable energy buyers, sellers, advisors, asset owners and financiers. The Platform includes the LevelTen Energy Marketplace, which delivers access to more than 4,500 power purchase agreement price offers spanning 28 countries in North America and Europe. It also includes the LevelTen Asset Marketplace, which brings together over 800 renewable energy project developers and owners, and delivers the online tools and expertise they need to buy, sell and finance assets quickly. Together, LevelTen and its partners share #OneGoal to accelerate the energy transition.

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