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Clean energy comes to Sac State

Posted On : September 26th, 2008

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Sacramento State was the center of the regional alternative energy industry today when companies from the Sacramento area set up booths in the University Union to network and share ideas with students.

"Engineering students today have a promising future," said Paul Misso, president and chief executive officer of Marquiss Wind Power. "If you take a look at the dot-com boom, that'll look like a speck compared to what we're going through now."

Ambitious startup companies at the conference have big plans for future growth. Misso says he has plans to grow the company from seven to 100 employees in the next three years. "I'm 100 percent sure that some of those will be Sac students," Misso said.

Based in Folsom, the Marquiss Wind Power sells wind turbines that can be mounted on the roofs of buildings and generate electricity.

Emir Jose Macari, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, said that bringing the event to Sac State gives students an effective way to look for internships and establish connections with companies.

Some companies may partner with the school so students can do projects for them, in place of hiring research and development departments that most startup companies cannot afford.

This gives students more real-world experience, Macari said.

The annual event was hosted by Clean Start, a nonprofit organization that helps new energy companies develop business plans and secure venture capital. Through a partnership with the College of Engineering and Computer Science they had free access to Sac State facilities.

Gary Simon, chairman of Clean Start, said that the organization works directly with about two dozen nascent companies right now and is involved with about 100 others that are less developed. He tries to help companies translate their big ideas into a successful business plan.

"A lot of engineers are, of course, very fascinated with technology, but you don't sell anything unless you can make a customer understand why they want it," Simon said.

The Sacramento region has 100 green businesses employing 2,000 people, 500 of which were added in the past year. Simon's goal is to have 10,000 green jobs in the region by 2015.

"It's been accelerating each year," he said.

Macari and business leaders said that future investment in alternative energy could help alleviate problems caused by an ailing US economy.

"Our economy's about to take a big shift. We don't know where the shift's going to go," Macari said. "All of this debt and the economic crisis happening in Washington and in New Your is going to affect us drastically."

These economic circumstances have led to growth in the engineering department with its highest enrollment ever.

Sam Pearson can be reached at

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