Making meaningful climate change through novel technologies | MIT News

Madison “Maddy” Myers MBA ’23, SM ’23 longed to combine her love of the lab with strong business acumen — and she wanted to fight climate change while doing so. MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations program offered the ideal blend of all three priorities, leading her to a full-time career amplifying the use of clean hydrogen.

“I really wanted a program with a technical element since I’ve always loved science. LGO combines the best of both worlds: an engineering degree, a business degree, and the six-month internship experience that I really valued as an undergraduate,” Myers says.

Myers received her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Northeastern University, where internships are a significant component of the curriculum. After graduation, she became a senior scientist at Cambridge’s Clear Scientific, Inc., a defense startup where she’d interned as a student. There, she helped to create sensors to help first responders detect whether they’d been exposed to nefarious chemicals.

“It was a heavily tech- and research-focused position. I love being in the laboratory,” she says.

But when Covid-19 hit, Myers began to contemplate an MBA or a part-time master’s degree in engineering while working. Mentors encouraged her to apply to the MIT LGO program due to its strong engineering focus and robust internship program. As part of the LGO program, Myers earned an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a master of science from the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Fittingly, Myers accepted an internship with the Strategy and Product Solutions group at NextEra Energy, one of the largest capital investors in infrastructure for investor-owned utilities (IOUs), municipalities, and cooperatives in the United States. She analyzed future decarbonization business opportunities, with a focus on methane pyrolysis.

“A big part of my job was to conduct diligence on startups that are working on new climate tech in niche spaces. I evaluated methane pyrolysis, a new technology that’s essentially a way to make hydrogen from natural gas, without carbon dioxide emissions,” she explains.

This ultra-clean form of hydrogen is easy to implement and, ideally, economical for customers hoping to lower their carbon footprint. It’s becoming an important area of focus for the business.

“Maddy’s research on producing small volumes of clean hydrogen at the point of use allowed us to advance new technologies for distributed commercial and industrial hydrogen consumers. Her work informed our approach to offer customers innovative solutions that support their objective to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” says Rick Clark, vice president of strategy and product solutions at NextEra Energy.

“It’s impressive what NextEra Energy is planning to do in terms of their real zero targets, reducing their emissions, and expanding investments in renewables — and hydrogen is obviously a big part of that. Maddy needed a good understanding of the technology while also fitting it into their corporate strategy. It was ideal for an LGO student,” says Scott Kennedy, who manages energy-oriented research collaborations for the LGO program.

In fact, Myers’s skills were so useful to the company that she signed on as a full-time senior associate for investments after graduation in 2023.

“As an intern on our team, Maddy was able to make immediate contributions while rapidly acclimating to our culture and a demanding project. Her strengths across leadership, technology and business exemplified the kind of talent we hope to attract through our LGO partnership,” Clark says.

Now, Myers is making an even greater mark on NextEra Energy as a full-time employee.

“I’m identifying hard-tech, green technologies that have a strategic fit with NextEra Energy that we can pursue corporate venture capital-style investment in,” she says. “MIT has such a focus on entrepreneurship and on climate tech that it’s been helpful to have access to the MIT and LGO networks. I’ve already interacted with several alumni who have gone on to focus on their own clean-tech startups, in the same space as me. From the investor side, it’s been fun to talk to them to figure out how to collaborate.”

Since starting the position, she also led an investment in Avnos, an advanced direct air-capture company that pulls carbon dioxide and water from air to divert it for downstream uses, such as for synthetic fuels. To that end, she’s passionate about the implications of her work on long-term global environmental health.

“There are just so many areas along the supply chain that can be decarbonized. There are so many more opportunities to reduce or reverse (climate change) effects outside of traditional power generation, and that’s why my team’s work is so important. We’re identifying not just how to decarbonize electricity but also other areas where people are emitting carbon. We can address this with novel solutions,” she says.

Myers wants prospective LGO students to know that the curriculum transcends a traditional supply chain focus.

“At LGO, you get access to the broader MIT ecosystem. There are a lot of opportunities to do things outside of operations,” she says.

“Maddy’s project captures all of the great things about an LGO internship,” Kennedy agrees. “It combines novel technology and a large corporate partner with the means to make meaningful change.”

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