Brentan Alexander, Ph.D.

Scientist / Entrepreneur / Engineer / [email protected]


Pleased to meet you. I'm Brentan, and I have devoted my career to solving complex problems in the fields of electrochemistry, fluid flow, heat and mass transport, combustion, and thermodynamics. My passion is cleaner energy, from tech to business to policy. When I'm not geeking out, you can find me outside, hiking the East Bay hills or building furniture in the backyard. Scroll down, and get to know me!



Chief Science Officer

New Energy Risk
Clean energy technology insurance, providing financing and warranty backstops that support the technology performance

I lead the technical due diligence process of potential insurance opportunities in the new and clean energy arena. I investigate the technical risks of client projects through on-site visits, interviews, and technical analysis of client processes and technologies, as well as working with external independent engineers to validate or inform our analyses. This work is directly used in our loss risk models that we rely on to determine project insurability, risk, and pricing.

January 2015 ~ Current


Swift Calcs
Web-app enabling engineers and scientists to perform engineering design and analysis calculations faster and more reliably

Swift Calcs simplifies and accelerates engineering design and analysis. I designed Swift Calcs from the ground up to be an intuitive and time-efficient alternative to paper, spreadsheets, and cumbersome computation packages. As Founder, I started Swift Calcs and wrote all the code for the current product.

March 2015 ~ Current

Founder and Director

A non-profit network of networks connecting students in energy

I founded EnergyFolks, a not-for-profit network of networks dedicated to connecting energy students and professionals in their neighborhood and around the globe. I designed and built the web infrastructure that the organization provides as a service to its affiliated networks and thousands of active daily users. I now sit on the Board of Directors and provide input into new programs and opportunities.

August 2011 ~ Current

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Startup developing range-extended electric drivetrains for medium duty trucks

As the thermal engineer at Wrightspeed, I design and analyze the cooling systems for our motors, power electronics, batteries, and other critical components. I have updated our designs to help reduce component cost, increase overall cooling, and improve system efficiency. I worked with the controls group to update thermal system logic to achieve equal cooling system performance with significant drop in pump and compressor load. I also have conducted testing on critical components, identifying and solving multiple unexplained operational anomalies, improving system reliability.

March 2014 ~ January 2015


A global engineering consultancy firm

As an Associate in Exponent’s Thermal Science practice, I advised clients on solutions to complex problems related to electrochemistry, fluid flow, heat and mass transport, combustion, and thermodynamics. I worked with major corporations to analyze and evaluate the design of consumer appliances and utility-scale energy systems. My analyses and recommendations contributed to the development of experimental technologies for oil well blowout control. Other application areas included evaluating thermal management solutions for electronics packages, and performing cause and origin investigation for fires and explosions.

June 2013 ~ March 2014

Chief Technology Officer

American Energy Society
An exclusive network for energy professionals

CTO of an early stage startup working to unify experts and professionals in the clean energy industry. I managed a team of internal and external web developers in the creation of our primary product: a web-based tool to facilitate information exchange and introductions between members of the society. I led the transition of these tools to a Ruby-based system, improving codebase reliability and maintainability.

September 2012 ~ May 2013

Previous experience


Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering

Stanford University
Performed fundamental research supported by an NDSEG fellowship on the efficient and clean conversion of carbonaceous fuels to electricity and/or hydrogen using electrochemical conversion techniques in a solid oxide fuel cell device. I utilized the results of my experiments to develop a coupled physical model of the electrochemical, thermodynamic, and fluid dynamic processes occurring in the fuel cell device.


2009 ~ 2012

Master of Science, Mechanical Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Conducted research on the design, fabrication, and testing of a microfluidic device designed to effectively separate liquid and gas phases during boiling.


2007 ~ 2008

Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5.0 cumulative GPA (on a 5.0 scale) within my major (4.9/5.0 overall).


2003 ~ 2007


NDSEG Fellow

U.S. Department of Defense National Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

2009 ~ 2012

Rohsenow Heat and Mass Transfer Fellow

MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering

2007 ~ 2008

Padmakar P.Lele Student Award for Outstanding Research and Thesis

MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering


Departmental Service Award

MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering


Bruce Mazlish Undergraduate Prize in History

MIT History Department


Honorary Societies

Phi Beta Kappa Society
Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society
Pi Tau Sigma, the mechanical engineering honor society



Extensive experience building models, performing computations, analyzing data, and producing plots in Matlab and MathCad.

Hand Calcs

Critical thinker able to quickly analyze problems on the 'back of an envelope' to test theories.


Performed numerous analyses using Star-CCM (CFD) and Comsol Multiphysics (CFD/FEA) of complex problems.


Experienced Solidworks user with exposure to Creo, Catia, and other CAD packages.


Competency on basic machine tools, including Mill and Lathe.


Proficiency in Python and Ruby. Experience with C and Java. Skilled in web-languages: PHP, HTML, CSS, Javascript.

Selected Public Domain Projects

Homemade Flip-Disc Display

An ongoing art project for my house, I am building a flip-disc display. The flip-disc display, once ubiquitous on buses, highways, and construction sites (such as this one), is now an endangered technology, replaced by cheap and reliable LEDs.

My display resurrects the sights and clicking sounds of this mature technology, and at 96"x42" features over 3000 individually addressable pixels actuated using brushed micro-DC motors. The system is controlled by a microcontroller, cascaded shift registers, and analog switches. The display is made of polished aluminum and hardwood panels, providing a warm and inviting update to the cold plastics used on the workhorse flip-disc displays of decades past.


Home Water Catchment and Monitoring System

In the midst of California's worst drought in a generation, I put in 200 sq ft of sod. To offset my water use, I also installed a 320 gallon rainwater catchment system. The system uses the house downspouts to capture rainwater into six connected 55 gallon drums, and a small pump then feeds that water to the sprinklers in the garden and yard, as well as the toilets in the house. A microcontroller and various sensors monitor tank fill levels, as well as outside humidity and temperature. As the tanks run dry, the microcontroller automatically switches the sprinklers and toilets over to the municipal water supply. A small display inside provides a visual indication of system status.

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EnergyFolks Web Infrastructure

A central piece of EnergyFolks is the web platform it freely offers to member groups. This web platform, based in Ruby on Rails, Javascript, PHP, and HTML, was developed over the course of 3 months in 2013 as a complete rewrite of an earlier platform I wrote for the Stanford Energy Club and repurposed for EnergyFolks. This new platform serves thousands of users a week with automated emails informing them of upcoming events, recent job posts, and more.

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