Big Bang Energy Disruption

The current business models for the production and distribution of energy are under threat from numerous disruptive innovations, from renewables to efficiency to alternative modes of transportation. What technologies are happening in our region now that will have major impacts on business and our urban environment and lives 10, 20 or 50 years from now?


Tom Ranken, President & CEO, . Under Tom’s leadership, the WCTA’s membership has grown by nearly a factor of 6 to over two hundred companies, research institutions, and other organizations.  Prior to joining the WCTA, Tom was a Seattle-based entrepreneur and management consultant. Tom co-founded and was CEO of VizX Labs, a bioinformatics company that developed GeneSifter, the first web-based gene expression microarray analysis service now used worldwide by hundreds of labs. Tom also led a team that turned around and doubled the size of Axio Research Corporation following significant losses, which was later sold to Solutia. He directed public affairs at the state’s largest biotechnology company, Immunex (now Amgen), and was President of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association.  Tom has an MBA from the University of Washington and a BA in economics from the University of Virginia.


Tom Nugent, Panelist President & CEO, .  Tom leads the LaserMotive team, which designs and sells systems to deliver electric power using lasers either wirelessly through the air or via fiber optic cables.  Previously, he was a project scientist at Intellectual Ventures Labs, a multidisciplinary early-stage R&D laboratory in Bellevue, WA. He also served as Research Director for LiftPort Inc., a pioneer in the development of the modern space elevator concept. Tom has been involved in liquid-fueled rocket engine development and testing through the MIT Rocket Team, and advanced fusion propulsion research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He holds a B.S. in Physics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT. 

Rob Pratt, Manager, .  Rob is one of the early thought leaders behind the smart grid and leads a team studying communications architecture, advanced control technology and simulation of the combined engineering and economic aspects of the future grid, including the effect of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.  Ron's research interests include smart grid technology and business cases, demand response, dynamic pricing, transactive control, home energy management, smart appliances, energy efficiency, fault detection and diagnostics, simulation, and renewables integration.  Ron received his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State and also has an undergraduate degree in Ocean Engineering from Florida Atlantic University.

Nick Touran, Reactor Physicist, Nick Touran is involved in core design, fuel management, neutronic simulation development, automation, coupling and innovative concept analysis as a reactor physicist at TerraPower. Terra Power is an energy innovation company focusing on the development of the Traveling Wave Reactor, a 4th-generation nuclear reactor. Nick joined the team in June 2009 and became the lead developer of the software framework within which much of the TerraPower core design takes place. Before joining TerraPower, he worked at the Idaho National Lab on reactor analysis, model development, and benchmarking. As a graduate student instructor, he taught students how to use a wide variety of reactor design and analysis tools, as well as the reactor physics underlying the models.  Nick earned a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan.


Event Schedule:

5:30p – 6:15p             Networking / Cash bar / Buffet

6:15p – 6:30p             Seating

6:30p – 7:30p             Panel discussion

7:30p – 8:00p             Q&A

8:00p – 8:15p             Forum concludes

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 1:30am