On May 1, 2017, Professor Jay Whitacre succeeded Director Jared L. Cohon, CMU President Emeritus and University Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Engineering & Public Policy as director of the Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. 

From the start of his career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he studied electrochemical energy storage and conversion, Whitacre has been a standout innovator in the world of energy technologies.

He came to CMU in 2007, where he quickly made a name for himself in the field of low-cost stationary energy storage by developing a novel battery that uses non-toxic, non-flammable chemicals. This unique battery became the basis for Aquion Energy, an energy storage technology company Whitacre founded in 2009.

As an institutional leader, Whitacre has served on the boards of multiple energy technology companies, as well as on committees for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In 2015, he received the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Prize for inventing the first mass-produced low-cost, eco-friendly battery.

In today’s energy-constrained world, it is more important than ever for Carnegie Mellon to remain on the cutting edge of research, education, and innovation in energy technology and policy.

Farnam Jahanian, Provost, Carnegie Mellon University

“In today’s energy-constrained world, it is more important than ever for Carnegie Mellon to remain on the cutting edge of research, education, and innovation in energy technology and policy,” says Provost Farnam Jahanian. “Bringing Jay’s wealth of experience in energy research and business development to the Scott Institute will ensure CMU continues to play a leadership role in this key strategic area.”

The Scott Institute was established in 2012, thanks to the generosity of CMU alumni Sherman Scott (E’66), president and founder of Delmar Systems, and his wife, university trustee Joyce Bowie Scott (A’65). Their founding gift, along with additional support for energy research provided by the Richard King Mellon Foundation of Pittsburgh, is what has made the Institute’s groundbreaking work possible.

The Institute’s mission is to promote research that improves energy efficiency, creates innovations in energy technologies and policies, and broadens the world’s mix of energy sources in a way that is sustainable, reliable, and affordable.

Cohon, who had served as director since 2014, says, “I decided that this was a good time to pass the directorship of the Scott Institute to the next generation of emerging faculty leaders. We have created a firm foundation of programs and staff on which real progress and growth can be built, and I think Professor Whitacre is an outstanding choice to lead the Institute into its exciting future.” Cohon assumed the position from founding director M. Granger Morgan, whose focus was on connecting CMU research to public policy, and establishing the Institute during the building of Scott Hall.