Meet the SES 2019 Changemakers

Churchill Agutu, Joshua Miguel Lopez, Alec Macklis and Emma Wiesner were selected to speak on the Changemakers Panel at the International Student Energy Summit 2019, as Summit alumni and young energy leaders.

The Changemakers Panel is a cornerstone of the SES program that features outstanding alumni of past summits. It is consistently voted as the most popular session by summit delegates! The goal of the panel is to inspire delegates with stories of Student Energy members that have gone on to execute their own visions for the future of energy. By showcasing a diverse panel of emerging leaders in their fields, current delegates will be able to see themselves represented in the transition to a sustainable energy future.

About the SES 2019 Changemakers:

Churchill Agutu – South Africa

Founder of the Africa Green Collar Project

Churchill attended SES2017 in Merida, Mexico, where he first began to explore energy solutions from a socio-techno-economic perspective. Churchill has a background in Chemical Engineering, and presented some of his research findings on improving the performance of solar cells, to students during SES 2017. Residing in South Africa where the energy transition is still in its nascent stages and an estimated 60% of the population are youth, he’s pursed work focusing on the intersection between youth empowerment, climate change, and energy policy. Churchill is the Founder of the Africa Green Collar Project, which is working to build a knowledge economy for young people in Africa, to enable them to create a sustainable future for the continent. He also works as an analyst at a global not-for-profit company working in the low carbon space. Previously, he worked as a Climate Change Advisor at a climate change advisory firm working in South Africa’s climate change environment.  

 Churchill is also a former project leader for the Engineers Without Borders UP Litre of Light (LOL) Project in South Africa, and he has been involved in other projects that originated at SES 2017, including a project where he worked with an international cohort of students to build cooking stoves for a local community in Zavalla, Mexico.

Joshua Miguel Lopez – Phillippines

Assistant Program Coordinator, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Philippines

Attending SES 2017 introduced Joshua to climate and renewable energy work, where he was exposed to changemakers who, despite their youth, had pursued leadership roles in shaping the energy future. Joshua works in the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippine Office on climate action and renewable energy and created the Renewable Energy Bootcamp or REBOOT, a program that trains youth from various professions to pilot renewable energy projects that also solve development needs in marginalized communities.  Joshua also created the Renewable Energy Congress, a national multi-stakeholder conference that brings together leaders from politics, local government, industry, academe, and civil society. Its goal is to build a broad consensus and develop catalytic projects that will accelerate the renewable energy transition in the Philippines.

Alec Macklis – USA

Founder and CEO of Gridspan Energy

At SES 2017 in Merida, Mexico, Alec gained access to key advisors and mentors who have helped him to build his company, Gridspan Energy. The company is pioneering new market and new use-case for energy storage systems with clear value and market in small island developing states (SIDS). To date they have raised over $700,000 in funding, have public-facing signature and agreement of 1st project with both the Government of Anguilla and ANGLEC a local utility. Alec has lived the Student Energy experience of creating a company that understands multi-disciplinary nature of energy and the challenging road of commercializing a novel, technology-enabled business model.

“Student Energy has had a huge influence on my career path. I ended up meeting a great mentor who was a founder of Student Energy, a co-founder of Student Energy: Janice Tran and she played a big role in mentoring me and advising during the last two years of starting this company” – Alec Macklis

Emma Wiesner – Sweden

Energy Marketing Analyst at SWECO; Centerpartiet First Substitute for the European Parliament

Emma gained valuable understanding of the international perspective of energy while attending SES 2015 in Bali, Indonesia. Her experience there inspired her to work in the European energy system and ultimately to run for European Parliament in the 2019 election as an engineer wanting to change the energy system politically. She’s working as a young candidate to the European Parliament to empower youth in the energy sector through politics. With a foot in both the energy industry and in energy policy, Emma helps her clients understand the energy transition, create scenarios for the future energy system, and analyse policy instruments. 

“Student Energy gave me this really international perspective. I’ve always been involved in politics, so I’ve been mixing politics with engineering and energy engineering and always knew that I wanted to work with policy to influence society, but before Student Energy I was more interested in national politics. But Student Energy really broadened my perspective, I was starting to think more in an international way, how can we influence the energy system on a global level. So being at Student Energy Summit in Indonesia really gave me perspectives from all around the world and really seeing that the energy system is much broader and you have to work with it on a global level.” – Emma Wiesner