Emily Eggers

Since her high school days of yearning to be an astronaut, Emily Eggers, Aerospace Engineering Sciences senior, has been intrigued by aerospace.  However, it’s hard to imagine that she could have predicted back then where an aerospace degree would eventually take her. Completing several internships at Raytheon, Emily gained exposure to aerospace design and space operations for Earth imaging satellites. These experiences all nicely contributed to her building a broad set of engineering technical skills, that today, she finds herself applying not to building satellites, but to developing solar technology for agricultural uses in developing countries.

Emily and three other CU engineering students (Taylor Scott, Myranda Prentiss and Kamron Medina) have co-founded SolVia Solar, Inc., a company that produces an improved solar irrigation system for use by small-plot farmers in developing countries. Their product uses a reflector film that concentrates the sun’s rays on to a solar panel, doubling the solar panel’s output. SolVia Solar is hoping to provide a viable alternative to costly (and environmentally harmful) diesel irrigation systems that are currently commonly employed. The idea for SolVia Solar, Inc. originated from a project CU Mechanical Engineering student Taylor Scott developed in his “Business Management for the Developing World” class.

When enlisted to the join fledgling company, Emily was eager: her family had a history of agricultural and entrepreneurial engagement. As the SolVia Solar Chief Operations Officer, Emily “works on the flow of everything,” handling the company’s meetings, e-mails and general public relations. For Emily and her co-founders, the biggest learning curve came in the form of gaining the business, financial and legal expertise necessary to run a company. Fortunately, the SolVia Solar team received mentorship through Catalyze CU, a program built as a collaboration between the CU engineering and business schools.

This past December, the members of SolVia Solar visited Nicaragua for a market validation trip.  Over the course of their two-week trip, Emily and her colleagues toured over 25 local farms and held focus groups for area farmers.  For Emily, the biggest surprise was the eagerness with which the local population embraced solar technology:

 “The trip had a far better outcome than expected. We expected to have to teach [the Nicaraguan locals] about solar efficiency and long-term cost. We were surprised to discover that they already knew how great it was...and all they needed was demonstration.”

This summer, Emily and the SolVia team will continue developing their technology, hopefully beginning beta testing in the fall.

-Written By: Ari Sandberg, Intern