Leadership Awards

The 2018 award applications cycle is currently open.

The submission deadline for all applications is August 1st, 2018. 

Engineer of the Future

The goal of this award is not to distract but to support the focus of an individual on his or her studies. When going through financial, family, or other personal hardship, it is easy for a student to de-prioritize school. We are eager to recognize and reward your resilient spirit now. We firmly believe that if you keep powering through, your investment in your education will help you in the long term. Trust us, we have been there. :)


Straubel Rising Leader

The goal of this project is to enable an individual to create lasting change in a target community of his or her choosing and interest. Leading a social change project can be absolutely empowering. The challenge is to 1) quantify the intended impact and 2) ensure that the impact is lasting, that it changes people’s behavior enduringly.



Straubel Impact Leader

The goal of this award is to support an individual or group to do something that will help our environment or raise awareness of an important subject. Organize a science march, organize a beach clean up, plant a Victory garden, build a neighborhood cooperative chicken coop, plant a few trees, you name it. The award will sponsor your initiative with funds that could be used for the group doing the work to purchase materials, food, beverages, t-shirts, and whatever else is needed to make it rock!

Award amounts depend on multiple factors. Please share as much information as you feel comfortable so we can get to know you and make good decisions when assigning the 2018 award amounts. If you have any questions please email us at info@straubelfoundation.org.


2017 Award Winners


Straubel Impact Leader Award

Rebecca Hui

Rebecca Hui, a sustainability innovator and visionary urban planner, is the co-founder of Roots Studio. Roots is a digital marketplace helping to preserve rural cultures and heritage through the power of technology.  An effective social enterprise, it connects rural artisans in developing economies with opportunities in the U.S. consumer market. “Rurban,” another of her impactful initiatives, enables villagers to strengthen their skills and assets and to deploy those in their local economies, without having to migrate to cities.  Rebecca holds a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and a graduate degree in City Planning, City Design and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Supported by National Geographic and a Fulbright Scholarship, she has researched India’s complex urban infrastructure and labor market architecture. Rebecca is also a TATA Fellow and a recipient of a prestigious Echoing Green fellowship. Roots Studio is affiliated with and supported by the Stanford Center for Social Innovation, the Girlboss Foundation, The Unreasonable Institute, StartX, and MIT100K.  Rebecca is a 2017 recipient of the Straubel Impact Leader Award because of her innovative endeavors that elegantly further adoption of technology to decongest cities in developing countries, to empower communities, and to preserve culture.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

Straubel Rising Leader Award

Danielle DeVera

Danielle is a Management Science & Engineering undergraduate student at Stanford University.  Combining her technical education with a focus on business and global impacts, she is active as a Board Member for the Stanford Consulting Student Group, an intern for the MBA Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a volunteer with Unforgotten Faces, a nonprofit in Ethiopia.  Her long-term goal is to make a lasting and global impact in the corporate social responsibility sector through systematized strategic networking between corporations and non-profits.  Raised, along with her siblings, in low-income housing by a single mother, Danielle has faced and overcome much adversity.  Danielle’s message resonated with us at the Straubel Foundation: she stated “that the higher you rise, the more you owe to society, and I’m motivated by the idea of rising high enough to influence as many people as I can.  I’m motivated by the fact that every accomplishment of mine contradicts where I came from.  I’m motivated by the fact that one day, a poor girl from a bad neighborhood may hear my name and know that I stand for the ability to rise above circumstances.”  Dr Pamela Hinds, Director of the Center on Work, Technology, and Organization in the Department of MS&E is Danielles' Advisor on campus.  Dr. Hinds noted: “I am impressed with Danielle's strength of character, her ability to navigate two very different worlds, and her grace in doing so.  Danielle is an excellent candidate for this award.  She has all the markings of a great leader, including compassion and a desire to make a difference for those less fortunate.”  The Straubel Foundation Awards Committee selected Danielle as a 2017 Straubel Rising Leader because of her strength, thoughtfulness, and vision. We are deeply inspired by her positive leadership potential and look forward to supporting her journey.   


Get to know Danielle

What does the Straubel Foundation award mean to you?  

It gives me hope and motivation to continue chasing after my dreams.

What are your “superpowers”? 

Empathy and compassion towards people and their circumstances and resiliency when faced with obstacles.

Favorite quotation?

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Sources of personal and professional inspiration?

I’m inspired by my mother, Cindy DeVera, whose selflessness shines through any struggle she may be going through herself.  I’m also inspired by my friend and colleague, Kim Zember, who started Unforgotten Faces (an organization now very dear to my heart) and continues endlessly on a radical pursuit to serve others.  In addition, I always love hearing about female CEOs because they embody grace, intelligence, and confidence.


straubel engineer of the future award

Ashley scholes

Ashley is a Mechanical Engineering student working on renewable energy projects, including self-cleaning coatings for improving solar panel efficiency and wind turbine installation.  An inspiring academic and community leader in high school, she is now focused on transferring from her community college to a 4-year program to complete her degree without accruing any outstanding debt.  Ashley works full time and her strong work ethic plays a prominent role in her academic success, leadership experience, and future promise.  Her determination has been recognized by many, including Dr. Kenneth Walz, Ashley’s professor and mentor.  Walz is a Chemistry and Engineering Instructor at Madison Area Technical College, Director for the Consortium for Education in Renewable Energy Technology, Adjunct Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the K-12 Energy Education Program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  Dr. Walz noted that Ashley approaches her engineering studies with interest and vigor and has established herself as a leader among her teammates. She promptly volunteers for leadership roles and serves as the point of contact for all client interaction on group projects.  Ashley is now part of her school’s honors program based on her spectacular body of work.  Ashley was chosen as a 2017 Straubel Engineer of the Future because of her unwavering work ethic, undeviating hard work, and bright talent in the field of sustainable energy engineering.


Get to know Ashley

What does the Straubel Foundation award mean to you?

The balance of working full time while trying to study for an engineering degree has been a significant challenge. The Engineer of the Future award means that I can focus more energy on my studies and projects while having a stable resource foundation, all helping ensure my academic success.

What is your “superpower”?

Tenacity.  I never give up.

Favorite quotation?

“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”

Sources of personal and professional inspiration?

Kelly Scholes.  She is an amazing mom who wants to see me do the best that I can and always is there to push me to do greater.  I aspire to be able to accomplish some of the things that she has been able to accomplish, like completing her degree and being a female leader in her workplace.  Another source of professional inspiration for me is Dr. Kenneth Walz.  He is a hardworking and involved professor and he is a positive role model as someone who is successful in the industry and willing to share with students that are eager to learn.


NREL Lab Profile.png

straubel engineer of the future

Zachary Koop

Zachary Koop focuses his current work and research efforts in the solar and energy sustainability fields, seeking technological ways to increase solar module efficiency while also developing off-grid photovoltaic systems for a rural hospital in Liberia and other domestic and international communities in need.  His own narrative began in energy poverty: Zach had to overcome immense socioeconomic adversity to achieve the knowledge and tools necessary to make an impact in the field of energy sustainability.  He received his B.S.E.E., magna cum laude with Distinction, from the University of Minnesota Duluth and his Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  Zach is a Tau Beta Phi National Scholar, a YP4 National Fellow, and a member of IEEE and the American Physical Society.  Zach is a 2017 recipient of the Straubel Engineer of the Future award because of his passionate pursuits: alleviating energy poverty and building resources that communities need to empower themselves.  


Get to know Zach

What motivated you to apply for a Straubel Foundation award?

I have been following JB Straubel’s work with Tesla and SolarCity for years and draw inspiration from his continually proved narrative of success.  I applied for the Engineer of the Future Award seeking the best possible mentorship I could find. I seek to work alongside industry’s top performers actualizing the future.

What does the Straubel Foundation award mean to you?

Being named Engineer of the Future affirms my dream to architect the economy of global energy resources that enable communities to empower themselves. Closer to home, it is an affirmation of my aspiration to rebuild the Rust Belt’s manufacturing economy using renewables. Perhaps most personally, it is affirmation of my journey and all the people who walked alongside me.

What is your “superpower”?

My superpower is resourceful grit.

Favorite quotation?

“A notion happens in an instant.  Ideas transform society, and the only thing necessary to change the course of history is a desire to improve the world.  In conception exists proof of possibility.  You can change the world in an instant, it is only a matter of a moment’s decision and time.” – J.F.K.

Sources of personal and professional inspiration?

My mother is my largest source of personal inspiration. Although she knew it would be difficult, she chose to raise me herself. Observing her fortitude taught me I can overcome any adversity. She would tuck me in at night and tell me stories of a better world. My childhood dreams were filled with stories of historical leaders, the movement of feminism and equality. The other incredible woman from my youth is my mother’s sister, Evonne, who always encouraged me to pursue my passions, urging me to never give in to apathy. I inherited their love, and in some way, I became their hope. I stand tall because they raised me on their shoulders.

Professionally, I draw inspiration from JB Straubel and Elon Musk.  As a proof of concept, the two have demonstrated the best way to change the world is to innovate it on the open market. I cannot express how significant it is for someone to be inspired into success. The two challenged what I considered my career would be.

Goals for the future?

My aspiration is to further the renewable energy economy and amplify its societal impacts. I want to further human rights, terraform the global energy landscape, and build resources that empower communities.