How did you first learn about Form Energy?
I’ve known of Form since around 2019, and followed updates sporadically through the battery grapevine or LinkedIn. I’ve always been cheering!
What made you want to work at Form Energy?
I previously worked at a startup working toward better electric car batteries, beginning my career there in 2012 after finishing my PhD in (solar) materials science and engineering. Back in those days, the Tesla Model S was still in the future, Chevy Volts were sparse, and a Nissan Leaf could make it 100 miles. 11 years later, I drive an electric car made by an American company that can go 250 miles on a single charge – battery technology improvements have really closed the gap! But I started thinking more about where that power was coming from and recognized the challenge Form Energy is working to solve by creating grid-scale storage for clean and reliable energy. My job with Form allows me to use many of the skills I’ve built to support American manufacturing too, and I’m proud to have two chances to change the world with one company!
Please outline your job duties/responsibilities at Form Energy:
This is my second role at Form after a stint in manufacturing/engineering that led to a cost savings for the company. I’m currently Director of Validation for Form Factory 1. My team is responsible for making sure we have appropriate testing and characterization tools in place and using the data to ensure that our manufacturing line is producing the products at scale that the Form team has designed and prototyped. We’re hiring!
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
I like working on deadlines to collect known technical (or meta) data in order to assess what the right decision is, given a timeline and cost considerations. This applies to everything from product data analysis to selecting the right vendors, and designing equipment.
What is the most important thing you have learned in your role thus far?
Ockham’s razor still applies – the simplest way to do something is the fastest, cheapest and hardest to screw up, but sometimes the hardest part is figuring out just what the simplest way is! This is applicable especially to manufacturing, but also to development, down-selecting, equipment design etc.
What skills (soft and/or hard) do you look for when hiring for your team?
I strive to build teams that work collaboratively to deliver our commitments on time. We do what we say we will do and have fun doing it. When hiring I seek candidates who demonstrate an authentic growth mindset, strong communication skills, and passion for the mission and solving problems, as well as the ability to both ask questions and call out when something is broken or a mistake was made. My teams are typically cross functional, so I value skills across the range of engineering (and beyond) including expertise in electrical hardware, analytics experience, design capability, database understanding and materials knowledge. In the end though, it’s how our team uses their collective skill and fills in our knowledge gaps to get the job done that matters most!
How does your position at Form Energy differ from other roles you’ve held previously?
It’s not every day that you are building a new factory from the ground up, and you get that holistic exposure from the big picture to precise details like which exact spots all the equipment will be located down the line. Visiting the Weirton site of our future Form Factory 1 is inspiring!
How would you describe your time at Form Energy in three words?
Dynamic, inspiring, mind-stretching.
Has anything surprised you about working for Form Energy?
How universally collaborative the team is – site to site, level to level and across many areas of expertise.
What are your hopes for the energy storage industry?
I believe that sustainable solutions to global warming will stick the most when people don’t need to drastically change their habits. I hope we can make the electricity that comes from people’s outlets cleaner and cheaper so they are motivated to reduce global warming by economics and without sacrifice.
What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?
I love being outdoors and exploring the city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding region with my family. I also coach Little League, play guitar and ski.
If you could witness any historical event, what would you want to see?
I’d do a time travel tour of a few minutes of many concerts throughout the ages starting in say, the 1800s. How much of the concertgoers shared experiences and emotions transcend time and how much is unique to the music type and era?!
If given the chance, who would you like to be for a day?
The president of a ski resort company or an airline – because I think I could implement some simple improvements in a single day that could improve the user experience 10 fold! I have some arguably great ideas for managing crowds, reducing critical mass, and maximizing efficiency! In the meantime, I’m more than happy to share my thoughts with any ski resort administrators or airline executives with an open ear 😉.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would magically be fully fluent in python or mySQL, but I only ever find myself with time to dabble enough without being able to fully create my visions from scratch!