(92d) Leading Technical Teams for Complex Energy and Sustainability Problems

Dauenhauer, P. - Presenter, University of Minnesota
The sustainability challenges of the 21st century are sufficiently complex to require a team approach of diverse skills and backgrounds. The development of carbon-free energy, a circular economy of recyclable materials, and long-term sustainable transportation and clean water systems will only occur with transformational approaches which combine technical, social, and economic solutions. Leading technical teams to address these problems has its own unique challenges. Academics working on these chemical technologies need to communicate and work across skill areas including research subfields of simulation and computational chemistry, process systems and analysis, materials synthesis and characterization, and experimental chemistry and catalysis. Moreover, technologies emerging from these technical teams must integrate with social expectations and economic restrictions; the teams must both share and receive feedback on the viability of their ideas for both implementation with society and commercialization across many types, sizes, and structures of companies. In this presentation, best practices and experiences are shared on maximizing the success of academic teams taking on the most important challenges of the coming decades. Specific examples include an approach to selecting problems, organizing teams, data and idea sharing, and communicating long- and short-term strategy. Finally, a discussion is provided on strategies for pivoting to new solutions and goals as insights emerge and inform the problem.