Michael Webber, PhD
Professor, Author, Energy Visionary
Michael Webber is the Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, Josey Centennial Professor in Energy Resources, Co-Director of the Clean Energy Incubator at the Austin Technology Incubator, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, where he trains a new generation of energy and water leaders through research and education at the intersection of engineering, policy, and commercialization. He has authored more than 375 scientific articles, columns, books, and book chapters, including op-eds in the New York Times and features in Scientific American. His latest book Energy 101, published digitally, is available from DISCO Learning Media. His recent book, Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival addresses the connection between earth’s most valuable resources with a hopeful approach toward a sustainable future and is receiving wide praise. A highly sought public speaker, he has given more than 200 lectures, speeches, and invited talks in the last few years, such as testimony for hearings of U.S. Senate committees on the energy-water nexus, keynotes for business meetings, plenary lectures for scientific conferences, invited speeches at the United Nations and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and executive briefings at some of the nation’s leading companies.
He has served in many distinguished advisory and regulatory positions for industry, government, and non-profits. Webber was a member of AT&T’s Sustainability Advisory Council (2009—2012) and a judge for Platt's Energy Industry Awards (2010, 2011, 2013). He also has served in advisory roles for high-growth businesses in the energy and water sectors. In addition, he has extensive governance experience as a commissioner for Austin Energy (2008-2013). Other positions include the Board of Advisers for Scientific American (since 2009), the Roundtable on Sustainability with the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering (since 2012), as a board member for non-profits such as Sustainable America (2012—2016), the Hope Street Group (2004—2006), and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) (since 2012). In 2006-2007, he was selected to serve as a member of the Renewable & Sustainable Energy Team with the Texas Workforce Commission as a part of Governor Perry's Industry Cluster Initiative. From 2010—2013, Webber was founding Vice-Chair of the Energy-Water Nexus Interdisciplinary Council for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).
In addition, as a professor, Dr. Webber has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at UT Austin since 2007 across departments as diverse as mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, liberal arts, business, geosciences, public affairs, and undergraduate studies. His teaching has been honored four separate times with major awards from the University of Texas System. Dr. Webber’s research focuses on the convergence of policy, technology, and resource management related to energy and the environment. In 2014 he was selected as a Fellow of ASME (the American Society of Mechanical Engineers), honoring his work and service to the scientific community and in 2015 honored with ASME’s Frank Kreith Energy Award. Entities such as the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Department of Energy, and non-governmental organizations, such as UNESCO, have featured Dr. Webber’s research in their policy-making decisions. He holds four patents (with another two patents pending).
His expertise, opinions, and research have been published, cited or featured in many media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, NPR, PBS, Bloomberg TV, The Daily Telegraph, BBC, ABC, CBS, Discovery, Popular Mechanics, New Scientist, MSNBC, and the History Channel.
His capstone class “Energy Technology and Policy” was launched as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) titled “Energy 101” September 2013 through a partnership with edX. More than 44,000 students from around the world registered for the course, and nearly 5000 completed it, which is twice the normal completion rate for MOOCs. He has also offered the course as part of executive education programs and professional training in Austin, TX; Houston, TX; Washington DC; Durham, NC; Phoenix, AZ; and Leatherhead, England for companies such as ExxonMobil, Sinopec, CNOOC, and many others.
Dr. Webber received his BA with High Honors in Plan II Liberal Arts and his BS with High Honors in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He then received both a MS and a PHD in mechanical engineering with a PhD minor in electrical engineering from Stanford University where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. He then served as a senior scientist at Pranalytica, where he invented sensors for homeland security, industrial analysis, and environmental monitoring. He then transitioned to the RAND Corporation studying energy, innovation, manufacturing, and national security. Dr. Webber is one of the originators of Pecan Street Incorporated, a public-private partnership in Austin, Texas, running the nation’s largest smart grid and smart water experiment. He lives with his wife and three children in Austin, TX.