This summer, Redaptive welcomed three undergraduate interns through the Clean Energy Leadership Institute’s inaugural year of the Empowering Diversity in Clean Tech (EDICT) program: Autumn Burton of Duke University joined the Marketing team, Anu Thirunarayanan of University of California Berkeley joined International Electron, and Yuchong Lee of Vassar College joined the Engineering department.
The EDICT program focuses on providing candidates from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, other, and underrepresented backgrounds with a paid summer internship opportunity, supplemental training, support, and access to networks in the clean energy and climate tech ecosystems. The program began this year in response to the need for the diversity of thought and lived experience that only comes with opening doors to groups that have traditionally been excluded. As a sustainable energy company, Redaptive is proud to be a part of the program and help to increase diverse, inclusive, and innovative climate-smart solutions.
With the internship program complete, we wanted to hear from our interns about their unique experiences at Redaptive. We spoke with Anu, Autumn, and Yuchong and have consolidated their interviews below:
What sparked your interest in clean energy and why did you apply for the EDICT program?
Autumn Burton, Duke University Class of 2021
Major: Environmental Sciences Policy
I’m passionate about people and the planet – both sustainability and equitable policy solutions that pave the way to environmental justice by honoring the experiences of marginalized populations. Last year, I was part of Duke University’s Bass Connections program where I worked to investigate the economic and productive use landscape of sustainable energy for subsistence farmers residing in rural Ethiopia, disconnected from the main grid. This experience sparked my interest in learning more about careers in clean energy that promote equitable energy access, which led me to apply for the EDICT summer internship program.
Anu Thirunarayanan, University of California Berkeley Class of 2023
Major: Data Science & Conservation and Resource Studies
Initially, my interests in environmentalism really were more focused on environmental justice and agriculture. But, over this past school year, I started taking courses in climate change and climate justice. I wanted to learn more about tech and energy and use those skills to help with energy sovereignty for marginalized communities throughout the world. And since the EDICT program is specifically for diversity in the energy sector and for BIPOC individuals this felt like a way to foster a community around the idea of diversity, equity, and justice.
Yuchong Lee, Vassar College Class of 2022
Major: Computer Science & Urban Studies
The topics of clean energy and the climate crisis are featured heavily in the news and social media. So, I became more interested in learning about what I can do to help the world move towards a clean energy future. And then, when looking for summer internships, I came across this program. I thought that it was a good fit, because it centers around these issues that I’m really interested in and I could apply my skills in computer science to those issues.
What did you enjoy most as a Redaptive intern?
Autumn: It’s really interesting to be a part of the marketing team during this time of growth for Redaptive. I’ve really enjoyed learning about the inner workings of the company’s social media management, marketing research, conducting interviews in corporate environments, and ESG policy development.
Anu: My favorite thing has been applying the data science skills that I’ve learned in a classroom to real world scenarios. The data science team is new. I have enjoyed having a big impact in the work that I do, especially in terms of shaping how the data science team will operate in the future.
Yuchong: I’ve enjoyed talking to and working with my team. I’ve noticed that everyone is really, really helpful. And, I also think the work is really interesting so it is a great place to gain new experience and learn.
What’s something interesting you’ve learned?
Autumn: As someone who has more experience with policy and advocacy, I’ve observed that the factors that make corporate-social responsibility a challenge from the company’s perspective are quite a bit more complex than I initially was aware.
Anu: One of the things I’ve learned is how to manipulate a data set based on what time things have been captured. For example, starting with a really large data set of 15-minute increments and being able to pare it down to the daily peak energy meter reading. I have done a lot of research and reading. But, when you get that end product of the data set that you want, it’s so cool and fun.
Yuchong: Before I started any of my first projects, I thought how complicated can billing be? But then when I started, I found that there are so many more different measurements, factors and ways to do billing that makes this whole process so much more complicated. It’s really fun to learn and work on complex problems like that.
What is the biggest takeaway from your internship at Redaptive:
Autumn: My biggest takeaway is probably my vastly broadened understanding of the renewable energy market and what it’s like to be a part of a fairly large, rapidly growing start-up company.
Anu:My biggest takeaway has less to do with data science and more to do with what I want out of a job and what I need to be able to do well. I feel like the best part of my job has been the support that I’ve received from my manager. I now know what it looks like to have a very nurturing, understanding leader.
Yuchong: I’ve learned a lot since starting this internship. For one, I never learned there are two different ways people actually measure apparent and active power. It also never occurred to me how important it is to find a narrative in data to convey to and make it interesting for various audiences. Honestly, it’s pretty cool that there are multiple ways to measure energy and many ways to tell stories through data.
What’s next for you after Redaptive:
Autumn: After this summer, I’ll be completing my last semester as an undergrad. One of the courses I’m looking forward to ESG policy, which I was introduced to during my time at Redaptive. I’m really excited to pursue careers at the intersection of social impact, sustainability, and clean energy.
Anu: I’m still figuring a lot of things out. As a data science major, I’ve become interested in tech ethics. There are many questions that need to be answered: how to extract data properly, how to make sure that the data and tech we’re using doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy and security, and how to use data to protect marginalized communities. All these questions surrounding tech ethics and the overlaps with environmental justice and climate justice are the areas I really want to get into.
Yuchong: As an Urban Studies and computer science double major, the intersection in technology and societal issues has always interested me a lot. Clean energy fits very nicely in that matrix. Moving forward, I want to find ways to apply my computer science skills to help people analyze and develop solutions for some of these issues.