The economic downturn may be gutting the ethanol markets and souring term sheets, but here’s one silver lining: Math and science grads are turning to engineering instead of investment banking, BusinessWeek reports.
Throughout the cleantech business, we’ve heard reports that many startups are finding themselves in the following predicament: While armed with a good business plan, a good idea, and good technology, they don’t have enough staff to scale their science-based business. It’s a problem affecting companies across the board, from traditional infrastructure development to solar installation to the carbon market.
At a media briefing earlier this year, Luc Larmuseau, global director of climate change services for risk management firm DNV (Det Norske Veritas), said a lack of qualified engineering professionals at all stages, from project development to project verification, is a major hurdle to speeding greenhouse gas-reducing projects through the pipeline. Developing carbon offset projects is a complex maze of engineering, regulatory requirements, environmental science and business know-how. Verifying that the projects do what they claim is an equally taxing process, and the labor shortage is creating a logjam when it comes to getting more carbon projects online.
As students shift into technology fields from I-banking, it could be a boon for carbon markets — and other greentech startups. From the BusinessWeek article:
“Over the last few years, many students who have had innovative ideas ultimately chose to take a more risk-averse career in investment banking or consulting,” says Travis May, another Harvard undergrad who put off finishing school to relaunch StudentBusinesses.com, an online service designed to match student-founded companies with angel funding. “Now, there is less of a pull to go in a traditional route, and the upside of that is it makes startups more compelling as a career path,” May says.
An influx of smart, driven engineers could be just what the cleantech business needs. As President-elect Obama and others work to stimulate the economy with green collar jobs, it’s nice to know that the nation’s brainiacs are headed in the same direction.