Geek of the Week: Co-founder Robert Masse

This excerpt taken from Geekwire's February 2, 2018 post titled "Geek of the Week: University of Washington's Robert Masse" - to read the full post on Geekwire, please see: https://www.geekwire.com/2018/robert-masse/

 

 

 

Robert Masse confesses that he didn’t always have an aptitude for science and technology, but that over time he’s become inspired by tools which can improve our quality of life.

 

The Wisconsin native, who is now a graduate student at the University of Washington, is making those tools himself, and people are taking notice. Our latest Geek of the Week recently won the the regional Global Student Entrepreneur Award, in a competition for student entrepreneurs who actively run a business. He was sponsored by the Seattle Entrepreneur Organization.

 

Masse’s business, Astrolabe Analytics (formerly Cloud Instruments), built a battery analytics platform that enables researchers and engineers to create better, longer lasting and more reliable batteries.

 

As an undergrad, Masse attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and got involved in research on materials for water-splitting technology — “breaking up water into O2 and H2 for the heretofore unrealized hydrogen economy,” he said.

 Since I believe climate change is likely to be one of the biggest stories of the 21st century, this got me broadly interested in renewable energy tech.

 

“During this time, I got started at Pacific Northwest National Lab for two internships where I helped research battery materials. My undergraduate work generated a few papers as well as a patent, and planted a seed that told me I do not want to be an academic forever, I’m more interested in using technology to help create real-world solutions.”

Masse pursued his interest in batteries to the University of Washington, where he now researches materials for magnesium batteries.

 

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Robert Masse:

 

What do you do, and why do you do it?

“I try to find the biggest lever I can pull on to have meaningful impact. Since I believe climate change is likely to be one of the biggest stories of the 21st century, this got me broadly interested in renewable energy tech and research when I was a freshman at Wisconsin. Later in my undergraduate career, this led me toward energy storage and battery tech. As I learned more about this space, it took me from materials research to the more specific data science platform we are currently building.”

 

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? 

“If you believe Elon Musk, we must have 100 Gigafactories churning out batteries to build all the EVs and grid-scale batteries we need to transition away from fossil fuels. This is still an enormous task, but a lot more tractable with this metric.”

 

Where do you find your inspiration?

 “I’m a pretty strong introvert, and I get my inspiration mostly from new ideas and ways of thinking about things. I think I am paraphrasing Seth Godin, who said something along the lines of: ‘Books are one of the greatest ROIs on earth because you can spend $15 and an afternoon to give you a new framework for understanding the world.’ I am currently reading Ray Dalio’s, ‘Principles,’ which is a treasure trove of mental strategies he used to build Bridgewater Associates into a multibillion dollar enterprise.”

 

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? 

“Fire. Whoever figured fire out was really on to something.”

 

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? 

“I try to be pretty minimalist. I just need my computer for most of my work, but for planning and thinking, I also like to have a large working area to spread out and organize my to-do’s and other note which I like to have written out by hand.”

 

to read the rest of Robert's profile on Geekwire, please see: https://www.geekwire.com/2018/robert-masse/

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