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Alumnus Wes Bolsen Advocates Biofuels as Setting Course for U.S. Energy Independence
September 7, 2011
"I don't want anybody to think that Rose-Hulman only graduates
engineers. It puts out problem solvers," Rose-Hulman
Institute of Technology alumnus Wes Bolsen told a
standing-room-only crowd at Rose-Hulman Ventures as part of this
summer's James R. Baumgardt Distinguished Speaker Series.
Bolsen is among a legion of Rose-Hulman alumnus who has found
success outside of engineering. As Chief Marketing Officer of
biofuels innovator Coskata, the 2000 electrical engineering
graduate is working to solve some of the nation's energy
problems. He recently was named the top CMO in the U.S.
(among companies with revenues less than $250 million) by the CMO
Institute on www.CMO.com.
Coskata is a Chicago-based company that's on the cutting edge of
new technologies that are set to revolutionize the biofuels
"When we talk about biofuels everyone says, 'what about
batteries?'" Bolsen stated. He points out that developing and
implementing battery-powered vehicle technology across the board is
a gradual process. "Liquid fuels are going to be used for at
least the next 50 years," he added.
Coskata's hybrid gasification plus fermentation process is a
proprietary technology which involves the use of patented microbes,
specially developed to produce ethanol from a variety of biomass
feedstock. The hybrid technology allows for greater
efficiency, while the microbes enable Coskata to make fuel without
tapping into our nation's food supply.
"I don't believe in 'food or fuel', I believe in 'food and
fuel'," Bolsen explained. "We don't need more corn-based
ethanol, but we need more biofuels." His vision involves the
use of a various sources of biomass, including trash to make
fuel. Ideally, he said, these items would be sourced
locally, and processed in local facilities, eliminating the need
for transportation costs while increasing job opportunities in
Lowering dependence on foreign oil would enhance the U.S.'s
energy security, and influence the way the country interacts with
the rest of the world.
"Let's start shifting global politics and taking our future into
our own hands," Bolsen encouraged the student interns, faculty
members and staff.
Bolsen credited his achievements to his faith, family and
"Sometimes it's the willingness to charge forward and not let
someone tell you 'you can't'," he told the audience. His keys
for success included first replacing the term "success" with
"significance," emphasizing that's it's not those who have
the most possessions, but those who make a difference in the lives
of others who truly succeed.
Bolsen enhanced his Rose-Hulman education with a master's of
business administration degree from Stanford University.
"Knowledge matters, but people matter more," he said.
"Know what you are working and living for . . . know what matters
to you most and why . . . leave a legacy behind with people."
Bolsen added: "Rose-Hulman wasn't just an institution -
somewhere I came to get an education - it was a family."