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Innovation and Entrepreneurship

 

From October 2017-February 2018, I worked with four other Duke students on an energy infrastructure startup called EnerGenius. EnerGenius was built as an SMS-based service that supports blockchain transactions through which energy consumers can text and pay directly to the power grid when they need to reserve or immediately gain energy access, avoiding excessive monthly charges and ensuring a higher quality of life. We built this startup as an entry into the Hult Prize Social Entrepreneurship Competition, and placed in the Top 5 among all Duke and Fuqua competitors to qualify for the National Regionals. We partnered with an NGO in Delhi, and were invited to build a pilot project on an off-grid system, but had to decline and end our work on the project due to commitments as full-time students at Duke. My role was that of the Product Manager on the team–I worked on algorithmic and technical design, but also interfaced with our first clients and iterated on the design of the software as we went along.

Shown above: A pitch to investors and advisors at the Hult Prize with the wonderful EnerGenius team.

This startup relates to my Grand Challenge because it is focused on optimizing the energy infrastructure in India, and consisted of long days and nights gaining context, calling community members across the world, and building up a technical product capable of connecting key players in the energy market. Pitching the idea to investors, working alongside engineers, business majors, and designers, and partnering with an NGO across the world were all key moments in my growth towards becoming a changemaker in this space.

Supervisor: Hult Prize Advisors, Duke Startup Challenge Advisors

Start Date: October 2017

End Date: February 2018

Total Hours: 350+

I am the Co-Founder and Innovation Lead of Project Edge, an innovation and design themed pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen students co-sponsored by Duke I&E and the Pratt School of Engineering. My colleague and I created Project Edge to help students feel like they have the agency to build their own unique Duke experiences. The curriculum is focused on empathy-building, design thinking, learning basic technical and ethnographic skills, and participating in a 5-day design sprint. Each day of the design sprint takes place in a different makerspace around campus, to allow for the students to gain familiarity with their creative surroundings at Duke. We also lead close interactions with American Underground and entrepreneurs in Durham, as well as with incredibly faculty from Pratt, I&E, and more. Our first year was for the Class of 2022, where we led 21 students of all different majors and backgrounds to prototype solutions to problems like mental health awareness, sustainability on campus, voter registration, and many more. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience, and I cannot wait to advise the new directors who will run the program for the Class of 2023! Find out more about Project Edge here

This program relates to my Grand Challenge because it is focused on helping student design and build their own Duke experience. This is an essential part of enabling Duke students to feel that they can innovate, create, and work together to make our campus a better place, and apply the skills of design thinking and empathy building to any range of fields.

Supervisor: Jordan Hale, Director of New Student Programs & Howie Rhee (I&E and Fuqua)

Start Date: February 2017

End Date: August 2018

Total Hours: 350+

As a first-time participant in Blueprint 2018: Nature + Progress, I took home the grand prize with my team for Algenie, a 3D offshore algae farm concept designed to be the basis of large-scale production in a supply chain from the sea to the farm, where it can supplement cow fodder to reduce methane emissions by 70-80%. We received $5000 in seed funding from Conservation X Labs and are currently in their Con X Tech Prize Accelerator program. We also have a partnership with the Duke Marine Lab for a pilot project. It was incredible to be at an event focused on the environment, our growth as a species, and how we can preserve both nature and progress in our world. You can read more about the outcomes from the event here.

This is related to my Grand Challenge because infrastructure innovation must include and integrate the environment along every step of the way. Working on decreasing methane emissions relates very closely with my work in renewable energy–they are both for the same end goal of protecting our natural environment as we try to increase human quality of life.

Supervisor: Alex Deghan, Conservation X Labs (Duke I&E)

Start Date: February 2018

Total Hours: 200+

The Cube is Duke’s Entrepreneurship Selective Living Group. As a member of the Cube, I interact daily with other student entrepreneurs who are partners and friends from all walks of life. We have put together entrepreneurship conferences, hackathon teams, and more, and I have been able to interact with young CEOs, VCs, and peers in the energy infrastructure space across the country. You can find out more about the Cube here.

Start Date: January 2017

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On top of Mechanical Engineering and my Computer Science minor, I am also a part of the I&E certificate at Duke and have been heavily involved in the I&E space. The courses that I have taken include Social Innovation with Matt Nash, Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise with Salman Azhar (in Silicon Valley), Strategies for Innovation & Entrepreneurship with Kathie Amato, and Engineering Innovation with Rebecca Simmons. These courses and faculty have been among the most influential and essential throughout the course of my Duke experience, and I have been able to interact with students from all different disciplines on projects such as designing and pitching a Happy Meal Toy, creating a new game for people of all ages to play, creating a blueprint for a social innovation-related scholarship program, and building out valuation spreadsheets for growing companies. These classes have taught me empathy, public speaking, teamwork, analytical and creative thinking, and have given me the chance to interact with alumni who have done everything from creating Broadway shows to building out solar capability in India. The I&E program has been an essential part of my Duke experience.

Start Date: January 2017

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After my freshman year, I participated in Duke in Silicon Valley for Entrepreneurship. In Silicon Valley, I visited over 30 companies with my peers, took part in rapid prototyping and design thinking workshops, and interacted heavily with Plug n Play, a major incubator in the region. You can read a blog post that I wrote during the experience here.

I participated in HackDuke in 2016 and 2017, where I built projects in the Energy and Environment categories both years. In 2017, I lead a hardware workshop on CAD prosthetic design on behalf of Duke eNable. This has supplemented my interest in technology and the social impact it can have.

As a freshman, I was a part of Social Impact 360 as one of fifteen total freshmen students. This was a one-year social entrepreneurship fellowship, during which I worked on GenereCycle and interacted heavily with the other fellows, who are all working on incredible projects and initiatives to this day.