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For SCU Alums, It Is Easy Being Green
Combining a passion for promoting alternative energy, a talent for engineering, and a commitment to going “green,” five SCU engineering alums are blazing a trail in energy monitoring at Fat Spaniel Technologies.
Chris Beekhuis, President and Chief Technology Officer, founded the company in 2003. Excited about renewable energy before it was a hot topic, Beekhuis was one of the first to install solar panels on his San Jose home in 1998, but was frustrated that he could not get the data he wanted from the available technology. “The first generation of equipment didn’t include a monitoring system,” said Beekhuis, “so, I bought a power meter and started monitoring the system myself.”
One of Fat Spaniel’s first employees was Richard Eckman, currently Director of Operations and Sales Engineering Director. He and Beekhuis had worked together previously and both graduated from SCU’s engineering management program, receiving their masters’ degrees in 1996.
Today, Fat Spaniel is a leader in providing critical monitoring and reporting services that can be managed and controlled over the Internet for the renewable energy industry. Part of their success rests with the addition of three other SCU alums, Steve Millward, B.S.’03, Sales Engineer, Kyle Ogle, B.S. ’08, Manufacturing Engineer, and Dmitry Levitsky, B.S. ’99, M.S. ’07, Engineering Services. “I think of SCU as my farm team,” said Eckman, “We have an excellent track record with people from SCU.”
Beekhuis notes “there is a good match between SCU programs and what Fat Spaniel does. It’s more than just engineering skills; it’s working on projects and technologies that matter and have some purpose behind them.” This is important to the crew at Fat Spaniel as they are serious about being “green.”
“We chose our location because it is accessible to public transit; we sponsor an EcoPass with Valley Transit Authority that allows our employees to ride free,” said Beekhuis. Other ways they walk their talk: no paper cups in their offices—they keep a supply of mugs—and they are aggressive recyclers. Eckman notes, “Behavior changes when people see the effect of their choices. Our solutions deliver information the customer can respond to, and our way of doing business reinforces our philosophy.”
How does this affect their employees? In Kyle Ogle’s words, “I absolutely love it. That’s why I’m working here. It’s a fast-paced, exciting new field, and I’m working with great people.” Can’t ask for much more than that!