Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to “make a difference” by making a significant contribution to society. I have a soft spot for families and especially for kids, and I really wanted to contribute toward the quality of life for those groups. A big concern is that quality of life for a large segment of the world’s population, never good to begin with, is poised for further deterioration as fossil fuel supplies deplete.
Quality of life to me starts with the basics: People have enough food and clean water, they have shelter, they live and work in safe conditions, and they have adequate access to affordable energy. At various stages of my life I have had involvement in projects in all of these areas, but most of my career has been focused on the energy portion – both in providing adequate supplies, and in urging conservation efforts to stretch our supplies.
The affordable energy piece is becoming more challenging, and we need more people working on this issue. As I transition into my new “green” job, I intend to step up my efforts on the sustainable energy front. There are a number of ways I can do this. First, my new job directly impacts on this. The technology we are engaged in – described briefly in the final section – promises significant environmental and sustainability benefits. But that isn’t the sole contribution I can make. I can also help bring promising sustainable technologies together with highly-motivated and talented people to enhance the odds of success. Up to this point I have done this by calling attention to technologies that I felt were promising, as well as by providing technical advice for some projects on an ad hoc basis.
With this essay, I am attempting to marry talent/passion with need by publicizing vacancies for some specific “green jobs.” I have had a series of conversations over the past year or so with Choren, a renewable diesel company that is now looking to scale up. Google contacted me last week to inform me of some of their vacancies in their new renewable energy efforts. Vinod Khosla has informed me several times that many of the companies he is involved with are looking for talent. And my new company is recruiting as well. I don’t think these jobs will be competing for exactly the same talent pool, because the job locations are geographically diverse. So, if you are looking for a green future and decent job stability (a recent story from Yahoo identified jobs in the energy and environmental sectors as “recession proof”) – here are some opportunities of which I am currently aware.
I have had a series of discussions over the past year or so with some of the Choren staff, including the president of Choren USA, Dr. David Henson. During the course of these discussions, I formed the opinion that Choren is ideally positioned for long term success in the renewable energy sphere. I think they are focusing on the right technology (biomass-to-liquids) for sustainable liquid fuel production, and they are on the leading edge of that technology. Dr. Henson will be hosting me at Choren’s new BTL plant in Germany in a month or so, and hope to make a report on the visit.
Their opportunities are described from their website as follows:
For the expansion to “world”-scale 600 MWth “Sigma” production facilities and the exploration of additional applications of CHOREN’s technologies we are now seeking highly motivated engineering specialists in the areas of Mechanical Engineering, Process/Chemical Engineering and Energy Technology, preferably with long or short-term experience in any of the fields of gasification, Fischer Tropsch Fuel Synthesis and/or in the Petrochemical Industry.
Choren is looking to fill the following positions in Houston:
Project Manager CHOREN USA, Job Description
Senior Process Engineer CHOREN USA, Job Description
Process Engineer CHOREN USA, Job Description
You can learn more information about the job opportunities at Choren by visiting their Employment Opportunities USA page.
I have admired Google for a long time. They seem genuinely motivated by a desire to help humanity. You may also be aware that they have topped CNN Money’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For for the second year in a row.
Recently, they announced their intent to help power a clean energy revolution. I was aware of, and supportive of their efforts, and in a different time and place I might jump at the opportunity to work for them. Recently, they contacted me about just that, and I replied that while the timing is not right for me, I would help them publicize their vacancies.
Here is a short description of their vision, and what they are looking for:
Our thinking is that business as usual will not deliver low-cost, clean energy fast enough to avoid potentially catastrophic climate change. We need a clean energy revolution that will deliver breakthrough technologies priced lower than carbon-intensive alternatives such as coal. Google is launching an R&D group to develop electricity from renewable energy sources at a cost less than coal.
We are looking for extraordinarily creative, motivated and talented engineers with significant experience in developing complex engineering designs to join our newly-created renewable energy group. This group is tasked with developing the most cost-effective and scalable forms of renewable energy generation, and these people will play a key role in developing new technologies and systems.
…if you know other outstanding engineers who may be interested, I encourage you to pass along this information as we are hiring for multiple positions. If you prefer that I reach out to them directly, I am more than happy to do so.
Their specific job opportunities at the moment, mostly at their Mountain View, California site:
Renewable Energy Engineer
Head of Renewable Energy Engineering
Director, Green Business Strategy & Operations
Director of Other
Investments Manager, Renewable Energy
They are also asking for people with the following experience:
If you have relevant expertise in other areas beyond these specific positions, please send an email with your resume to email@example.com . Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
• regulatory issues
• land acquisition and management
• energy project development
• mechanical and electrical engineering
• thermodynamics and control systems
• physics and chemistry
• materials science
Vinod Khosla has built quite a renewable energy portfolio. See this PowerPoint presentation for his complete (or at least what’s public) renewable portfolio. Opportunities range from corn ethanol (which I don’t recommend) to cellulosic ethanol (some promising opportunities there) to advanced biofuels, electrical power, and even water desalinization. There are far too many companies to give details on all of the job vacancies, so I will just pick out one of the most interesting (to me), LS9. They describe themselves as the Renewable Petroleum Company™, and have this description on their website:
LS9 DesignerBiofuels™ products are customized to closely resemble petroleum fuels, engineered to be clean, renewable, domestically produced, and cost competitive with crude oil.
LS9 is the market leader for hydrocarbon biofuels and is rapidly commercializing and scaling up DesignerBiofuels™ products to meet market demands, including construction of a pilot facility leading to commercial availability. While initially focusing on fuels, LS9 will also develop sustainable industrial chemicals for specialty applications.
They are looking for the following for their South San Francisco location:
Current openings at LS9 are listed below. Please submit your resume stating qualifications and relevant experience to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the job title in the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you.
Director, Bioprocess Development
Associate Scientist, Fermentation
Research Associate/Senior Research Associate, Fermentation
Downstream Recovery Scientist
Biochemist / Bio-organic Chemist Scientist
Research Associate/Senior Research Associate, Biochemistry
Automation Laboratory Specialist
Scientist, Metabolic Engineering
Associate Scientist, Microbiology
Senior Research Associate, Microbiology
What LS9 is attempting is Holy Grail stuff, but what they are trying to do should be technically feasible. However, it won’t be easy and it’s going to take some very talented people.
Don’t forget that this is only one of the Khosla Ventures’ companies. There are numerous job opportunities there if you dig a little.
As I have mentioned previously, I left the oil industry on March 1, 2008 to become the Engineering Director for Accsys Technologies. While we are not creating energy as was the case with the previous companies I described, we are saving energy and attacking the problem of rainforest destruction. Here is a brief summary of what appealed to me about the company and my desire to make a difference:
Growing concerns about the destruction of tropical rainforests, a declining world stock of high quality timber and increasingly restrictive government regulations regarding the use of wood treated using toxic chemicals have created an exceptional market opportunity for the Company. Accsys believes that its technology will transform the use of wood in existing applications where durability and dimensional stability are valued, both halting the decline in the use of wood in outdoor applications and substituting plastics and metals.
Wood acetylation is a process which increases the amount of ‘acetyl’ molecules in wood, thereby changing its physical properties. The process protects wood from rot by making it “inedible” to most micro-organisms and insects, without – unlike conventional treatments – making it toxic.
I think you can see why that might appeal to me – this technology enables a sustainable replacement for tropical hardwoods, and can replace plastics and metals in some applications.
We are working on getting our job opportunities posted, but for now I will just mention a few. We are filling a wide variety of positions at our plant in Arnhem, in the Netherlands. If you are a citizen of an EU country, I believe you are eligible to work in the Netherlands. We should soon have a complete listing of jobs at our Titan Wood site (Titan Wood is a subsidiary of Accsys), but some of the current vacancies in Arnhem include Process Control Engineer, Project Manager, Supply Chain Manager, and process and mechanical engineers.
We are also filling jobs in our new Dallas office that are global in nature. For Dallas we are looking for a Global Process Improvement Manager (reports to me), Global Procurement Manager (reports to CEO), and a Panel Products Manager (reports to Panel Products Director). These positions require travel (got to break a few eggs to make a cake) to places like the Netherlands and China (where we are building a large facility in Nanjing). Required qualifications for these jobs include an engineering or chemistry degree, 7-10 years of relevant experience, and a preference for an MBA. Further, I want my Global Process Improvement Manager to share my passion for making the world a better place.
For now, you may send a cover letter and your resume or CV to JOBSUSA “at” accoya “dot” info (edited to slow the spambots) for positions in the U.S., or JOBSEurope “at” accoya “dot” info for positions in Europe. You may want to indicate that you are responding to this essay, and then the resume may be circulated to me.
Rest assured that I am not going to get in the habit of using my writing as a platform for promoting my new company. I do think it is directly topical to what I write about, and I plan to do one post in the future about the technology. However, most of my posts will be as they have been in the past: Covering energy, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. I do plan to shift more in the direction of “problem solving”, and this post was one aspect of that. It is an attempt to bring together talent and passion with a critical need, and it also will hopefully provide needed job stability in a fragile economy.
I am really interested in writing more about promising technologies, especially those that haven’t received much attention, but I first have to figure out a way to manage this. I tend to get about 19 bad or unworkable ideas e-mailed to me for every 1 that shows promise. I can’t afford the time at present to work my way through that sort of volume (and some of the proposals I see are very extensive), so I will continue to focus for now on those that are already on the radar.
19 thoughts on “Green Job Opportunities”
Congratulations on the new job and the Accoya™ product looks very promising. There is is a huge market gap in quality wood products. Part of the reason that I built a stucco fence around our backyard is that the locally available cedar is from too-new-growth trees and doesn’t have the resin content to be weather resistant for the cost and pressure treated spruce doesn’t keep stain or paint well. If you need someone to test lumber in a Canadian environment… I could use a new deck 🙂
Robert – congrats on the new job. It is our loss.
I looked over the job descriptions. The Choren project manager is nearly exactly what I do now (I’m building a gasifier), right down to the FT part. Maybe I could look at a green job as a second career but not for 5 or 6 years. There are lots of us in the traditional retirement program who would take a major hit if we switched today. To entice me away the cash bonus just to keep me whole on retirement would need to be around $1 million. Most startups can’t pay that.
But that said, there may be a lot of talented engineers and project managers coming on the market in the next few years.
Restraining his obvious pride and excitement, he explained that a standard Saturn VUE Green Line can accelerate from zero to sixty in 12.5 seconds. Despite weighing some 1,400 lbs (635 kg) after its PHEV upgrade, the VUE demonstrated 11.6 second 0-60 performance in electric-only mode. But even more impressive, Furia told me with obvious delight, in full hybrid mode, it turned in an impressive 6.9 seconds, faster than a Porsche Cayenne.
I looked over the job descriptions. The Choren project manager is nearly exactly what I do now (I’m building a gasifier), right down to the FT part.
Vinod Khosla told me that some of the companies in his portfolio are locating in Houston precisely to take advantage of oil company talent. That is also an advantage that Choren is going to have.
There are lots of us in the traditional retirement program who would take a major hit if we switched today.
That is exactly what has caused me to say “No” to every other opportunity that has come up. Add everything up, and it wasn’t worth the hit.
I do hope you continue to post here on a regular basis. And you will have to e-mail me some time and tell me who you are. 🙂
One of our licensors poached our best startup guy. He was only 42 but told them he needed $750k signing bonus. They wrote the check without batting an eye. They got their money back in a couple of months. It is amazing what $100 oil and $20 gas (when you export it as LNG to Japan) can do.
We are extremely short on engineering talent everywhere.
If you ever need a hack journalist in Los Angeles, I am at the ready!
Good luck with your new venture, Mr. Rapier. And thanks for flagging the growing opportunities in the post-fossil energy arena.
I would add to your list the opportunities in nuclear engineering & nuclear power, which potentially could outpace all the other post-fossil energy opportunities — and meet your objectives of making a real difference in people’s lives.
A big issue to emphasize, especially to young people, is that we live in a technological society. There are many worthwhile careers for people with a good background in math & science.
In the UK, a number of universities have had to shut down their Physics Departments because of lack of students — that is tragic for the world, but a huge opportunity for students willing to take the path less traveled.
i’m mech engineer and lately i’ve been looking to move out of aerospace industry and into energy, oil/gas, or alt energy.
aerospace is like the last place i want to be in an expensive oil environment. US airline orders have plummetted in recent years. my company is still solvent due to defense contracts and mid-east airline orders.
anyways. drop me line: punlap at gmail if you have a need for mech e’s.
thx and sorry i don’t mean to turn your blog into a job shopping board.
Are you hiring for any US locations besides Dallas? Where would a chemist with 12 years of industrial experience fit into your organization?
Don’t forget to clean out your company e-mail before you leave.
Don’t forget to clean out your company e-mail before you leave.
Funny you mention that. I have been working on it this morning. Finally, no more of those annoying “Your mailbox is over its size limit” messages. When you do what I have been doing, you get 5 and 6 meg PDFs sent to you constantly, so hardly a day goes by that I am not over my size limit.
I got your message; about to respond. We may know someone in common.
If you need someone to test lumber in a Canadian environment… I could use a new deck
Bob, we are definitely interested in expanding in North America, so don’t give up hope for that deck. You wouldn’t mind a constant stream of visitors to show it off, would you? 🙂
thx and sorry i don’t mean to turn your blog into a job shopping board.
That’s what this post was for. If I can help move someone from a job that is at risk in this economy to something that is more recession-proof AND is good for the environment, I can feel like I have made a positive contribution – to the security of both that person’s family and to the environment. So, feel free to discuss jobs here.
Are you hiring for any US locations besides Dallas?
Primarily for Dallas, but the job isn’t in Dallas, if you know what I mean. Dallas is just a home base. We do have the odd case where someone doesn’t actually live in Dallas. In my opinion, it would be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Where would a chemist with 12 years of industrial experience fit into your organization?
Several openings are listed as looking for either a chemistry or an engineering degree. To me, the important thing is that the person is a good troubleshooter, creative thinker, and passionate about the work.
i wanted to email you, but could not locate your email address on the blog.
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Last night I was watching a Charlie Rose conversation with Nancy Pelosi. She said that with green energy, our farmers would be growing our fuel and the green energy industries would revitalize our inner cities with new jobs.
So there you have it Robert, if you need new employees, look no further than the inner city. I know, they may look like crack dealing gangbangers, but with the right training, they can be the biologists, chemists, and engineers of the green revolution.
Yo dat lab coat gotta fit loose. We makin ethanizzle or butanizzle. Gimmi dat celluloose juice.
Hi Robert, I’d like to ask you about choosing an engineering discipline. I’d like to be involved in the energy sector, and it seems like chemical engineering would be a great choice because I could easily switch between oil/gas and renewables.
Would you recommend chemical engineering or another field? Which areas of chemical engineering will be most important in the near future?
Also, do you have any advice for young engineers entering the field?
Thanks for your time,
I am of course partial to chemical engineering. I think chemical engineers work in the most diverse fields and have the most career options.
I think that demand in the renewable sector will continue to increase, but the demand will continue in the oil and gas sector as well. There will be a serious shortfall there for years.
Advice? Do a job internship or coop. They are easy to get, and you will find an easier time getting a job once you get out. Plus, you will make a little spending cash between semesters.
Green Job Seekers should focus on jobs in green area rather than wasting time in applying for all job post in all fields. Find green jobs at http://www.thegreenjobbank.com
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