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Story in the School of Engineering

Bickford photo

James Bickford '08

Mechanical Engineering major
At a glance:

Mechanical engineering major gets the tools at SCU to co-found his own startup renewable energy business.

Originally from Tacoma, Wash., James Bickford would not have guessed he'd be called an entrepreneur before even graduating. But his participation in the 2007 Solar Decathlon took him down a surprising path: one month after receiving his diploma, he was reporting to work—at a start-up renewable energy business that he co-founded.

"Santa Clara's mission of sustainability, and its location in an area full of intelligent, competitive people, lends itself to lots of opportunities in the green industry," says Bickford.

Valence Energy was an exciting endeavor that focused on energy efficiency. After getting the company launched and introducing the first generation product, Bickford became marketing manager of Tigo Energy, another innovative startup, to pursue his passion in solar energy. Tigo Energy is developing a technology that significantly boosts the amount of energy harvested from any solar panel.

"I guess I always thought I'd end up working for someone else, that I'd be at a big company," says Bickford. "But developing an entrepreneurial spirit might be a by-product of being in Silicon Valley."

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