2008 Forward under 40 Award Honoree
UW Major: Mechanical Engineering
Age: 38 | Davis, California
Deputy Secretary for Energy Policy, California EPA
When America's most populous state looks for solutions to climate change, energy security, and clean, renewable sources of energy, it turns to UW grad Anthony Eggert. Eggert serves as the Deputy Secretary for Energy Policy at the California EPA where he works on clean energy policy including energy efficiency, renewable energy and low-carbon fuels and vehicles. Previously, Eggert served as one of five commissioners on the California Energy Commission, developing policies for energy efficiency, transportation, climate change and renewable energy. He also serves on the boards of the University of California Energy Efficiency Center at Davis, the Alliance to Save Energy, the Energy Institute at Haas, the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at Berkeley and on a technical advisory Committee to the US Department of Energy.
But when he first came to the UW, he was less interested in government policy than in the way machines work. He entered the college of engineering, taking courses such as Engineering Design with Professor Frank Fronczak.
As a senior, Eggert proposed creating a new class called Mechanical Dissection which is now listed as a permanent course Mechanical Engineering 379. The coursework involved deconstructing motors, compressors and other mechanical equipment so that students could learn to reverse-engineer them. "The fact that the school was willing to consider a new course proposed by an undergraduate was incredibly empowering," he says. Creating the course taught him that new ideas can be realized with initiative and hard work.
After graduating, Eggert joined the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich., working on vehicle emissions and fuel economy. He eventually went on to earn a master's degree at the University of California-Davis, and became interested in energy policy in finding ways to help the world reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and address climate change. After graduating he helped Ford run their California Fuel Cell Partnership for a few years, he returned to Davis in 2003 to launch a new inter-disciplinary research program focused on the deployment of low-carbon fuels and vehicles including hydrogen and fuel cells. In 2007 he joined the state's Air Resources Board advising the chair on the implementation of California's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act.
In January of 2010 he was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the state's Energy Commission, where he oversaw a variety of programs on renewable energy, energy efficiency, low carbon fuels and advanced vehicles to meet California's clean energy and environmental goals. In Februrary of this year, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to his current position as Deputy Secretary for Energy Policy at California EPA. He credits his time on the UW campus with preparing him for his current challenges.
"I feel tremendously fortunate that I've been given the opportunity to work on programs that will help achieve a more secure and environmentally sustainable energy future," he says. "While I didn't fully realize it at the time, my positive experience at the University of Wisconsin was instrumental in providing me the proper skills and personal drive which has led me to where I am today."
In his own words
What do you miss about campus?
The diversity of distractions — bike rides around the lake, hanging out at the Terrace, State Street. The opportunities for enjoyable activities in addition to engineering classes meant that we had something to look forward to when [we] finished with all of our studying.
What are you reading now?
Collapse by Jared Diamond — a very informative set of stories about what happens when societies/cultures ignore the natural limits of their environment.
What occupies your free time?
What was your first job?
My very first real job was as a farm hand on a fifty-head dairy farm. This is where I learned the meaning of hard work.
If you could trade places with any person for a week, with whom would it be?
John Muir while trekking in the high Sierra.