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UC San Diego ‘Solar Soothsayer’
on Fast Company’s Most Creative List

June 2, 2010

By Rex Graham

Fast Company Logo

UC San Diego’s director of strategic energy initiatives, Byron Washom, was recognized in the June issue of Fast Company magazine as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business 2010,” ranking him number two in its green category. Since joining the university in 2008, Washom has teamed with faculty researchers, campus-operations engineers and students to pursue projects related to solar power, smart-grid technology, alternative-energy projects and novel renewable-energy financing.

Described as a “solar soothsayer” by Fast Company, Washom said, “I regard this honor as an institutional award since I have long contended that the best part of my job is my inability to exceed the imagination of my colleagues at UC San Diego.”

Fast Company, known for its focus on innovation, digital media and technology, noted a new study by IBM that said CEOs rate creativity as the most important leadership quality for success in business. About 60 percent of the 1,500 CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52 percent for integrity and 35 percent for global thinking.

Fast Company recognized the creativity of pop singer Lady Gaga, filmmaker James Cameron, Apple Vice President Eddy Cue and others for altering the landscape of their respective areas of expertise.  “The selections reflect the breadth of news ideas and new pursuits at play in our business landscape,” said the magazine’s editors. “From interface designer Yugo Nakamura to HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins to futurist Ray Kurzweil, we can attest that creativity is alive and well in 2010.”

Fast Company

Working with private companies and utilities, US Department of Energy, California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Solar Initiative, CleanTech San Diego and other organizations, the UC San Diego teams that include Washom have assisted San Diego’s rise to the seventh best  hub in the world  for clean tech.

“Byron is one of several key players on an innovative team at the university that has truly transformed the campus into a living laboratory for creative climate solutions,” said Gary Matthews, UC San Diego’s vice chancellor of Resource Management and Planning.

UC San Diego’s portfolio of sustainable energy-research and demonstration is significant and growing.

For example, Fast Company noted Washom’s recent collaboration with his co-principal investigator Jan Kleissl, an assistant professor of engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering, on a predictive model designed to accurately forecast the output on cloudy days of each section of thousands of acres of solar photovoltaic panels scattered across a city, state or region.

Washom said energy storage is another key technology needed to overcome the inherent intermittency of solar and wind energy. “The ability to efficiently store electricity generated by renewable sources and discharge it at a time of its highest value is another one of UC San Diego’s creative game-changer research projects,” he said.

A nationally recognized expert on energy management policy, Washom works with the vice chancellors of Research and Resources Management and Planning to help the campus achieve its sustainability goals. He was a visiting faculty member at the Rady School of Management and in 2008 received the Community Leader Award for Sustainability from the campus.

Washom founded in 1989 Spencer Management Associates and served the advanced energy and environmental technology goals of a diverse client base of international corporations, multi-lateral lending institutions, governments, and national research organizations. He also founded Advanco Corp., which in 1984 set world records for solar electric conversion efficiency, which led to an “IR100 Award” from R&D Magazine in 1984, and remained unsurpassed until eclipsed by Sandia National Laboratory in 2008. Rockwell International acquired Advanco in 1985.

Washom has a B.S. degree in Management and Finance (1971) and an M.B.A. (1972) from the University of Southern California.


Media Contact: Rex Graham, 858-534-5952, ragraham@ucsd.edu

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