Using Blockchain for Clean Energy

Mark Johnson built his career in the clean energy arena and is now sharing lessons from his experiences with Northwestern Master of Engineering Management (MEM) students as the program's Executive in Residence.

Mark Johnson, Director, Energy & Utilities Innovation, BlockchainsReimagine everything. Empower everyone.

It is an inspiring mission, and it’s the mantra that exists at Blockchains, a company striving to use technology to better protect and empower individuals. The company aspires to use blockchain technology — a data structure that is maintained in a digital ledger and shared among a network of users — to revolutionize healthcare, transportation, public works, commerce, crisis management, energy, and life at home.

Mark Johnson leads Energy and Utilities Innovation at Blockchains, where he works to discover, apply, and deploy digital cryptographic technology in order to track, trace, trade, and retire Kilowatt-hours (kWhs) and clean energy credits. Johnson has been a long-time supporter of Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program and will serve as the MEM Executive in Residence (EIR) for the 2021-22 academic year. 

The EIR hosts office hours throughout the year, delivers two lectures on industry topics relevant to their career, and generally serves as a resource for MEM students.

“MEM students are extremely bright, experienced, positive, and hard-working," Johnson said. "The program gives both in-classroom and outside-of-the-classroom hands-on experience which is fun, invaluable and builds long-term relationships you will never forget." 

Johnson's career has been spent in the clean energy space. He led the US Department of Energy's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program for 2,500 cities, counties, and states. He's been the Smart Cities Chief of Schneider Electric and was a senior consultant for IBM. He also founded, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit that provides no-cost covered parking lot solar storage EV fast charging stations tracked and traced by blockchain technology, and created Cleanest Charge to scale up clean transportation by providing a fast and convenient electric vehicle charging service.

Though he himself is not a MEM graduate, Johnson is a vocal supporter of those who do go through the program. The education students receive in MEM is different from the traditional MBA, which Johnson earned from Loyola University Chicago. He has hired several graduates of the program to work with him on specific projects because he knows they have been exceptionally trained. He also has assisted a number of MEM students find jobs after graduation.  

What Johnson sees in MEM alumni resembles the mission of his company — those who go through the program are able to reimagine any challenge they face, and they have the knowledge and resources to feel empowered to go out and create change.

“MEM is engineering-centric, which really is the core need to solve big problems like clean energy adoption," Johnson said. "The students come with rich work-world experience, global perspectives, and deep engineering backgrounds that enable them to come up with and create thoughtful solutions to clean energy challenges.”

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