Course IX; PhD 2004
I was pleasantly surprised that what differentiated MIT wasn’t technical ability but the ability see ideas and opportunities before anyone else. When it comes to research, the best way to make progress is to identify low hanging fruit where no one else is looking. MIT taught me how to do so.
We have only one earth and our species is destroying it. We have perhaps one or two generations to shift from an extractive to an ecological civilization and I strongly feel that I have to do whatever it takes to enable that transition.
MIT has an unparalleled reputation for technical genius. It’s also one of the most entrepreneurial institutions in the world. Why not direct that talent and energy toward the greatest challenge of our times? MIT is a large institution but it’s a startup in comparison to the forces that are holding us back. My dream is that MIT is a disruptive agent that helps the world shift toward a new way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
There are about 130,000 MIT alums holding positions of power and prestige throughout the world. Many of them want to do something for the earth but don’t know how they can contribute effectively. MITACAL can concentrate those energies and make them visible. Suppose a thousand alumni promote an ecological civilization – that would be a shout heard all around the world.
Ph.D., Transportation & Urban Analysis (Courses I + XI), 1979
A broad spectrum of scientists has made clear how little time is available to avoid catastrophic consequences of CO2-caused climate change. As a result, leadership from major research and innovation centers such as MIT is essential to setting us on a path toward low- or net zero-carbon economies. At least two things I learned as a student convince me that MIT can be a global leader in addressing our climate predicament:
1. Challenging conventional thinking uncovers assumptions and beliefs that may need discarding; and
2. Combining innovative technologies and data with human needs can result in major breakthroughs.
By questioning its own conventional thinking and tapping the wealth of talent within its community, I believe MIT can set a game-changing example by (1) moving quickly to a net-zero-carbon campus; (2) divesting its portfolio of all fossil fuel holdings; (3) renegotiating its financial and research relationships with fossil fuel companies to promote activities that move the economy to net-zero-carbon emissions; and (4) promoting green jobs and skillsets among MIT students and alumni at all stages of their careers, from entry into the workforce to mid-career transitions and senior professionals.
I see MITacal playing an important catalytic role by:
· articulating the gaps between current practices and a bold climate action vision for the Institute;
· linking MIT alumni leaders from around the world with each other and with the MIT campus community to close the gaps and realize the vision; and
· ensuring that the ethical as well as financial and scientific perspectives become part of regular dialogue in the MIT community about how to express climate action leadership.
PhD 2014, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science
In my time at MIT, I discovered that the Institute is much more than an elite technical institution; it is a visionary hub of innovation and global thought leader. Collectively, current students, faculty, and alumni hold a tremendous amount of influence on political and business leaders. We have rarely exercised that power to promote fundamental social and economic changes, yet that is exactly what is demanded by the crisis of climate change. Some of the most influential climate research has come from MIT, yet the impacts of this work on policy decisions have been frustratingly small.
I want to see MIT infuse climate research, education, and leadership into every facet of its operations, from transforming its campus operations to holding its industry partners accountable for their role in creating the climate crisis. MITACAL can help by promoting new ways of bringing MIT’s expertise to bear on this challenge. We will work to bring climate change to the forefront of alumni concerns and amplify our collective voice calling for the boldest possible actions at MIT to lead other academic institutions and the world toward a stable climate future.
MS Chemical Engineering Practice (Course X), 1995
The most valuable thing that my MIT engineering education taught me was creative ways to solve real problems, the way I typically describe it is that I was put in a box with no windows or doors and asked how do I get out. This forces you to learn to figure things out in new ways.
This valuable education is highly relevant to the technology-created problem of massive proportions and we need a technology-led solution driven by the world’s technology leadership. Clearly these problems call for bold leadership by those in positions of knowledge and power, particularly by MIT.
My goal with MITACAL is to take the leadership role and start acting while we unfortunately wait for MIT to take its stand. MITACAL has a role, first and foremost, in holding MIT accountable for technology’s part in the creation of this problem and to the response that the science now demands.
S.M. Computer Science (Course VI), 1995
My dream is for MIT to call for and lead a worldwide effort to effectively respond to the climate challenge, and to re-tool itself to be primarily an educator of eco-engineers, that is to say, highly trained engineers who are motivated to help our civilization be ecologically congruent, allowing humans to survive and thrive on this planet and beyond indefinitely.
I’ve been aware of the threat of climate change all my adult life, and have put my entrepreneurial skills to work to help start, run and govern several non-profit organizations taking direct action on climate change, including the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) and Green Cambridge.
MITACAL can harness the voices of the MIT alumni, the largest stakeholder group within the MIT community, to call for MIT to take on a leadership role in our collective response to the climate crisis. I’m excited to be part of this great effort.
Sloan M.B.A. (1996), M.S. (1992) (Course II)
Jorge E. Colmenares, Senior Consultant
A business entrepreneur, Jorge is passionate about helping others find their own unique talents and putting these to the service of humanity. With this purpose in mind, he moved to Massachusetts in February 2015 to launch a new phase in his career in the area of Climate Action and Corporate Social Responsibility and to drive it with conviction and passion.
Jorge’s main business focus has been the development of Renewable Energies, as the alternative to traditional use of fossil fuels. He has extensive experience in this area: first, as Investment Banker working at JPMorgan, then, as Executive Vice President working for a US leader in wind and solar development, enXco, and later as an Entrepreneur in clean energy generation.
Jorge is determined to bring a solution to Climate Change through Renewable Energies, primarily with wind and solar projects.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Jorge worked right out of college in the oil and gas industry. After two years of field experience, he came to the United States to pursue graduate studies.
He holds a Masters of Business Administration (’96) and a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering (’92), both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).