Alumni Profile: Mike Henchen '06

Mike Henchen
Posted on October 5, 2017

Major: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)

Professional role and organization: Manager, Rocky Mountain Institute, Boulder CO

How do you define sustainability?

To me, sustainability means enabling a thriving, modern quality of life for all people in a way that continues this prosperity indefinitely for generation after generation

How does your work relate to sustainability and how did Princeton prepare you for your role?

I lead research and collaboration projects in the U.S. electric power industry, aimed at establishing market structures and business practices that shift our power generation, transmission, and customer resources to a more renewable, secure, and distributed future. Princeton introduced me to the need and opportunity for sustainable energy, through a class I took with Professor Rob Socolow my senior year. My Princeton experience gave me the technical knowledge to understand the energy ecosystem, the motivation to pursue a sustainable transition, and the leadership training (through the ROTC program) to know how to drive this change.

What advice would you offer to students seeking to focus on or incorporate sustainability in their careers?
There are many career paths that can lead you to significant impact on sustainability, and experience in a traditional industry may be incredibly helpful. For instance, many leaders in transforming the electric power system have spent time in electrical engineering at a utility, or leaders in developing the future of mobility have worked at the major Detroit automakers. No matter your first job out of college, you can always find ways to build expertise and advance a sustainable future.