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Course Spotlight — NUvention: Energy

With an increasing number of floods, heatwaves, wildfires, and droughts, the world and its inhabitants continue feeling the impact of climate change and rising global temperatures. There is an acute need for clean energy solutions cultivating a healthier, more sustainable planet.

In NUvention: Energy (ENTREP 474, ISEN 420), Northwestern students confront environmental problems many deem intractable, if not unsolvable, and invent financially and environmentally sustainable businesses at the energy-water-food nexus.

Cross-listed by the Institute for Sustainability and Energy (ISEN), the quarter-long NUvention: Energy course allows students to interact with accomplished industry professionals sharing dynamic insights into the multi-faceted, fast-moving, and purpose-driven clean tech industry. Students are simultaneously challenged to bring novel solutions, including existing Northwestern research, to market.

Since its launch in 2010, NUvention: Energy has ignited some of Northwestern’s most enterprising and successful student-generated startups, including:

“There’s an intense hunger for cleaner alternatives and solutions to combat climate change and build a more sustainable world. NUvention: Energy is the avenue for students to make a difference and create change in this vital area of innovation.”
— Mark Werwath, instructor, NUvention: Energy



In NUvention: Energy, a course open to any Northwestern student interested in clean tech entrepreneurship, interdisciplinary teams build a comprehensive business plan rooted in a sustainable solution. To prepare for their course-closing business plan pitch to industry veterans, entrepreneurs, and investors, students: 

“Before NUvention: Energy, I had no experience or knowledge about the energy industry, but the background knowledge on this industry’s inefficiencies, recent developments, and opportunities as well as the transferable skills and networking opportunities provided by NUvention: Energy give me an incredible launchpad into a potential career in the clean energy sector.” 
— Stephanie Shields (BS ’24), political science major in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences


THE INSTRUCTOR                         

Mark Werwath

Over more than a decade leading NUvention: Energy, Werwath has helped several student teams take their clean energy idea from the classroom to the stage at business plan competitions, to seats within prized incubator programs, and to presentations before industry-shaping investors. A Farley instructor since 2007 and a clinical professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences since 2012, Werwath has extensive experience in innovation, new product development, and technical entrepreneurship.



Ian Wiese

A 2018 graduate of Northwestern’s Master of Science in Engineering Management program and former NUvention: Energy student, Wiese is the cofounder and chief technology officer at NUMiX Materials, the NUvention: Energy-spawned company that has earned funding from the US Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and Chain Reaction Innovations.

Eve Hanson

Hanson is the industrial sector lead at Third Derivative, a firm that discovers, funds, and scales transformative clean tech innovations. A NUvention: Energy graduate who also holds a PhD in materials science and engineering from Northwestern, Hanson is active in the climate tech ecosystem and has supported numerous clean tech firms in crafting their plans for growth.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran

As the global energy and climate innovation editor at The Economist and host of “To a Lesser Degree,” The Economist’s podcast on addressing climate change, Vaitheeswaran is among the world’s leading voices on clean energy. His NUvention: Energy visit provides students the ultimate insider’s forecast for clean tech.

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