I grew up in Santa Cruz, CA where I developed an appreciation of the outdoors and the environment through the activities I loved to do everyday. Santa Cruz was a mecca for surfing, mountain biking, kiting, skating, foil surfing and everything else I liked to do. I knew from an early age I wanted to have a career that I loved and that I could feel good about knowing I was giving back to the environment.
I took my first solar course in 2009 and followed the guest speakers out of class to get my first job in the solar industry working for Real Goods Solar at their Santa Cruz branch. I guess I can say I've been working in the solar industry for 8 years. After studying for a few years at Cabrillo Community College I wanted to get more serious about my education and decided to pursue an engineering degree. I found Oregon Institute of Technology in Portland, OR was offering the first Renewable Energy Engineering degree in the nation and I knew that's where I wanted to go. I transferred to Oregon Tech in the Fall of 2014 after completing all my core courses in math, physics and engineering at Cabrillo.
The summer of 2014 I had the opportunity to work for Solar Plus Inc. an innovative solar company on the island of Kauai. Kauai may possibly have the largest percentage of solar on it's utility grid in the US and therefore the island is a test bed for future technologies regarding solar plus storage. The utility on Kauai over the years has been making it inherently more and more difficult for homeowners to connect their residential solar systems to the grid. Doug Phillips, the president of Solar Plus, has constantly been coming up with new ways to install hybrid systems that allow homeowners to power their homes with solar power without fully disconnecting from the grid. Working for Solar Plus was insightful and I gained lots of hands on experience with custom off-grid systems incorporating energy storage of all battery types. It became tradition throughout my stay at Oregon Tech that I spend my summers in Kauai working with Doug and his team on microgrid type projects. Summer of 2014 I brought a sailboat back from Hawaii with my brother and a crew of six. Again I realized the potential for Tiny Watts Solar as the boat I was on didn't have any solar power because the owner was too overwhelmed and didn't understand the technology.
My experience working for Solar Plus helped me get a job working for a leading solar company in the Portland area, Elemental Energy. The owner of Elemental Energy, John Grieser was also an Oregon Tech student about five years before my time, Elemental Energy was his senior project and today has been awarded top solar contractor for five years in a row. John saw the value in my experience working with off-grid systems and brought me on as their energy storage specialist/solar consultant. One of the projects I first worked on with Elemental Energy was also teamed up with another Oregon Tech graduate Troy Holland from Sprinter Tech, a macgyver engineer at heart and van guru. Together they engineered a fleet of solar foodtrucks for a tech campus in Silicon Valley. I was stoked to be apart of such a cool project and happy to be gaining more hands on experience with customized solar installations.
While finishing out my senior year I was working for Elemental Energy part-time as a consultant but wanted a broader understanding of the industry on all scales. I obtained an internship at a power consulting firm, HDR Inc in downtown Portland. At HDR I was apart of a specialized team that worked on substation design for utility scale solar farms and energy storage projects. It was a great experience to be apart of such large projects but I found I got more satisfaction out of the smaller projects that weren't so cut and dry. I was at HDR for about a year as an intern and during that time was promoted to designer and upon graduation to electrical engineer. I worked at HDR for two months full-time but found I was growing unhappy with the corporate setting and sitting in an office from 9-5. At this point I decided to say goodbye to the corporate world and set out with my fiance Savana to form Tiny Watts Solar. There was a void in the world of smaller projects that we set out to fill. So many people get lost in the forums or on YouTube and end up wasting time and money trying to figure out the electrical portion of their project. We want to help these people make the transition to sustainable power more easily. We want to provide support and guidance to the DIY types and make sure they get the right components for their project. We also want to be there for the people that just want someone else to do the electrical for them and trust that it is done correctly and safely. Tiny Watts Solar is mobile by nature and allows Savana and I to travel in between projects working remotely and on the road! Get in touch with us today and we'd be happy to help you out!