Five minutes with… Stephen Mushegan, Class of 2012

Manager Stephen Mushegan graduated from the MSc in 2012. Here he talks to us about his job, some of the things he loves, some which he loves to hate and his memories of the Sustainable Energy Futures course.

Stephen Mushegan, Class of 2012

What is your job title?
Manager in the Islands Energy Program at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)

What do you actually do?
I work with governments and utilities in small island states to transition from dependence on fossil fuels to use of clean energy. My work includes analysis for long-term energy transition plans, assessing feasibility of potential clean energy projects, and developing and procuring those projects. Most of my project work has focused around utility-scale solar PV and now solar-plus-storage microgrids in the Caribbean, but I’ve also provided high-level analysis for wind and geothermal projects.

What is the most interesting thing about your job?
The unique mix between renewable energy and international development. Dependence on imported fossil fuels means small island states pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Combined, islands contribute less than 1 percent of global carbon emissions, yet they are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, like sea level rise and stronger storms. Our work is rewarding because it’s not just about renewable energy, it’s also about stabilising energy costs and making island communities more resilient.

Where are you if you are not in your office/lab/field?
Exploring different neighbourhoods in New York City and eating new foods! .

Which living person do you most admire?
Barack Obama, because he has a strong moral compass, understands a broad range of issues very well, but also surrounds himself with intelligent people as his key advisers to inform his decisions.

What’s your favourite book?
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

What would your super power be?
The ability to freeze time.

What is your favourite word?
Mashimushkil – Moroccan Arabic for “No Problem”.

How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who constantly tried to better himself in order to better the world around him.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Keep your eye on the prize – sometimes it’s worth intentionally losing a battle in order to win the bigger war.

What is your favourite memory of your MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures?
Playing bunker ball! We had a beach ball, put two long tables together, and had rules that were similar to table tennis, using our hands as paddles. That was a great way to procrastinate.

How did your studies prepare you for your future career?
The course provided me with a very solid foundation for a range of jobs in the energy sector. My work has spanned the range of designing energy efficiency and combined heat and power projects, understanding operation of fossil fuel generators, identifying transmission and distribution constraints, and integrating different forms of renewable energy into the grid – literally the application of multiple SEF modules so far!

Are you still in touch with any of the people you studied with?
Yes! Several of us have reunited in Trinidad & Tobago, a wedding in Ireland, another trip to South Africa, and soon a weekend getaway to Stockholm, Sweden! Several of my closest friends now are people I studied with.

How would you sum up your time at on MSc in three words?
Eye-opening. Supportive. Impactful.