[Introduction] Week 0

My name is Carly de Frondeville, and I am a fourth-year majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Bioengineering. My transition from bioengineering to computer science was motivated by my interest in the subject, but also because I felt that the skills I would learn in the computer science major would better equip me to combat climate change.

Climate change has been on my mind since I was nine — when I found out the ice caps were melting and had nightmares about drowning polar bears for months. A decade later, my concerns are more nuanced. My primary grief about climate change is that those who have consumed the least, and thus have contributed the least to the problem, are bearing and will continue to bear the brunt of the impacts. People who have never experienced the benefits of electrification will suffer in part because of how the United States has designed its economic system over the last century to depend on a limitless supply of energy. This energy fueled a culture of excess consumerism, but also important improvements in quality of life. Fighting climate change while improving quality of life requires electrifying as many sectors as possible, while simultaneously decarbonizing the sources of that electricity. As a computer science major whose goal is to work on the “smart grid,” I was so excited to see PingThings partnering with Cal Energy Corps this year, and interning for PingThings is a dream come true.

Since starting college, I have tried to educate myself to be as useful as possible in the fight against climate change. Those without sufficient access to electricity and other energy resources — who will consequently be those who suffer the most in the coming decades — also have a harder time accessing higher education, so I feel a duty to use my education to be a part of the solution. 

Initially studying bioengineering, I struggled to find a path that focused on climate change rather than medicine. I worked on environmental projects outside of class. As the director of Climate Action in a student senate office, I advocated for electrification and 100% renewable energy in meetings with campus administration. Switching to computer science changed the game: I was excited about the technical skills I was learning in my classes, and could imagine applying them to a wide range of causes. Compared to dispassionately slogging through organic chemistry, I was actually excited to spend hours staying up late working on computer science projects. My work advocating for electrification taught me that the key to powering the grid with more renewables is to improve transmission and distribution efficiency, and to better orchestrate our energy resources once connected. Then, we could meet peak electricity demand by coordinating loads and intelligently managing batteries without relying on traditional methods like natural gas peaker plants. A software solution to an energy problem was just what I had been looking for! Since then, I have tried my best to take classes that would prepare me to help transform our power grid.

I am so excited to contribute to PingThings’ effort to collect and analyze an unprecedented amount of grid data, and apply the skills I have learned to a project that directly impacts the lives of those who depend on both electricity and a livable planet.