Alumnus shows power as alternative energy leader
A degree at Arizona State University can lead a Sun Devil just about anywhere. The following is part of a series that shows how ASU's young alumni are already making their mark on the state, nation and world.
At 30, Cody Friesen already has made his mark in the emerging field of renewable energy. Two years ago he started a company that produces ultra high-density, low-cost renewable energy storage – a metal-air fuel cell that can store wind and solar power all day, discharging it at peak demand times. Fluidic Energy already employs 24 people, many of them engineers and Ph.Ds, and the company just moved into a 16,000-square-foot building.
Friesen also leads an 11-member research group as an assistant professor of engineering in the ASU School of Materials, working on alternative energy research. Already he has won a National Science Foundation CAREER award for young scientists and has brought in a U.S. Department of Energy grant, among other funding. He also teaches, helped rewrite the ASU curriculum for materials engineering, and does outreach with science teachers working with the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
He’s an intense, creative guy. “I’m a serial entrepreneur,” says Friesen, who received a B.S.E. from ASU in 2000, before going to M.I.T. for his doctorate. “What attracted me back to ASU was Michael Crow’s vision of entrepreneurial faculty, taking research and spinning it out of the university setting to create jobs. There’s an opportunity here to have a huge impact.”
Friesen has had seven patent disclosures to date and has raised substantial research contracts that support students. The head of his department, who put him up for tenure a year early, thinks he’ll do great things. “I’m here for the long term,” says Friesen. “What we’re doing is really transformational.”