Years ago at an intellectual property law conference in Washington, D.C., then-Senator Orrin Hatch began his keynote remarks with something like this:
Patent lawyers, huh? I’ve met a lot of them over the years, and I can tell you this: what they lack in personality they more than make up for in intelligence.
Maybe IP attorneys score low on the charisma scale because they—like many groups of professionals—become convinced that the arcane issues they grapple with are the only truly relevant ones. I certainly fell into this trap: with clean energy, what could be as important as the underlying technology and the intellectual property that protects or stifles it?
I just needed to get out more. Shortly after starting the FDCE program, it became clear that tech and IP are part of the renewables universe, but not the center of it—and that I’d learn at least as much from other members of the cohort as I would from the formal course materials. At the first of the live sessions in the Clean Energy Policy course (which all students are required to attend), the rat-a-tat comments and questions in the Zoom chat—sometimes difficult to digest in real time—raised issues and made connections that I had never thought of. And this has been the case for the 16+ other live sessions since then.
It’s also been true for the dozens of times I’ve interacted with other members of the cohort. Because we have a wide range of experiences (and nobody’s an expert on everything), all of us have both things to learn and ideas to contribute—and many have been willing to help others who’ve struggled with new concepts. On that front, both the FDCE community platform and the independent FDCE ’22 Slack group (set up by Christian Sanchez and Lori Ann Santamaria, two incredible members of the cohort) have been fantastic resources. On both platforms, students give tips on how to approach assignments (a great help for a novice Excel user like me), and share podcasts, books, reports, and other resources that they’ve found useful. I even got free tickets to a climate tech conference.
None of this is meant to suggest that the actual courses in the FDCE program are unimportant. They establish a framework that members of the cohort can build on by sharing their expertise in renewables, policy, finance, law, government, automotive, public utilities, NGOs, or the dozens of other backgrounds that I don’t have space to mention. To paraphrase Harry Truman, optimists are the only ones who get anything done. The cohort is filled with more than a hundred nerdy ones—and they’re not all IP lawyers.
Learn more about the Financing and Deploying Clean Energy certificate program and see if it's right for you! Apply by March 13, 2022.