Michael Webber is the Deputy Director of the Energy Institute, Josey Centennial Fellow 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 leaders through research and education at the intersection of engineering, policy, and commercialization. He has authored more than 300 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 UT Press. 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, 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.
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. 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). In addition, he has served in many distinguished advisory and regulatory positions, including 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 and the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), and as a commissioner for Austin Energy (2008-2013).
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.
Since launching in March 2013, his syndicated television special, Energy at the Movies, has been telecast more than 200 times on 96 PBS stations in 27 states. The special bridges the gap between academic discourse and popular culture by synthesizing expert analysis of Hollywood films into digestible lessons on the science and history of energy. Energy at the Movies has reached over 43 million households in the United States, with a follow up series in development.
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. The global scope of the Energy 101 MOOC fits in with Webber’s motto of changing the way the world thinks about energy. The suite of energy literacy tools created under the Energy 101 brand includes videos, calculators, games, and an interactive ebook. He has also offered the course as part of executive education programs in Austin, TX; Houston, TX; Washington DC; Durham, NC; Phoenix, AZ; Leatherhead, England; and Singapore.
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 experiment.
- M.A. Cook and M.E. Webber, "Food, Fracking, and Freshwater: The Potential for Markets and Cross-Sectoral Investments to Enable Water Conservation," Water, 8(2), 45 (2016).
- J.B. Kjellsson and M.E. Webber, "The Energy-Water Nexus: Spatially-resolved analysis of the potential for desalinating brackish groundwater by use of solar energy," Resources: Special Issue on Groundwater Quantity and Quality, pp. 1-3 (13pp) (2015).
- Y.R. Glazer, J.B Kjellsson, K.T. Sanders, and M.E. Webber, "The Potential for Using Energy from Flared Gas for On-Site Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Treatment in Texas," Environmental Science and Technology Letters, pp. 300-305 (5 pp) (2014).
- K.T. Sanders and M.E. Webber, "A comprative analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of wheat and beef in the United States," Environmental Research Letters, 9 044011 (2014).
- M. E. Clayton, A.S. Stillwell, and M.E. Webber, "Implementation of brackish groundwater desalination using wind-generated electricity: A case study of the energy-water nexus in Texas," Sustainability (special issue The Energy Sustainability Nexus) 6, pp. 758-778 (2014).
- J.D. Rhodes, C.R. Upshaw, C.B. Harris, C.M. Meehan, D.A. Walling, P.A. Navratil, A.L. Beck, K. Nagasawa, R.L. Fares, W.J. Cole, H. Kumar, R.D. Duncan, C.L. Holcomb, T.F. Edgar, A. Kwasinski, and M.E. Webber, "Experimental and Data Collection Methods for a Large-Scale Smart Grid Deployment: Methods and First Results," Energy 65 pp. 462-471 (2014).
- K.T. Sanders and M.E. Webber, "Evaluating the energy consumed for water use in the United States," Environmental Research Letters 7 034034 (11 pp) (2012).
- A.S. Stillwell, C.W. King, M.E. Webber, I.J. Duncan and A. HArdberger, "The Energy-Water Nexus in Texas," Ecology and Society (Special Feature: The Energy-Water Nexus: Managing the Links between Energy and Water for a Sustainable Future) 16 (1): 2 (20 pp) (2011).
- C.W. King and M.E. Webber, "Water Intensity of Transportation," Environmental Science and Technology, 42(21), pp 7866 (7pp) (September 24, 2008).