Welcome to Material Way
This site is now more personal update until circumstances might demand yet another change.
I remain willing to help organizations in their process application, metrology and equipment needs but I am not actively consulting in these areas at this time. I left a staff role within NASCENT, an NSF nanomanufacturing engineering research center (ERC) at the University of Texas at Austin, after a 5 year stint whose duration was tied to the establishing grant's end. I'm now looking for roles to influence energy policy in the state of Texas. This is prompted by a policy success at the municipal level that I enjoyed through the City of Austin and the fact that TX, as the leading US green house gas producer, has terrible energy policy narratives dominating discussions when there are universally beneficial policies on which we could focus instead.
That said, problems are still interesting and challenges need attention. If you encounter an issue that I might help address, please feel free to send an Email. I will try to aid as I can: email@example.com
ps: For someone who crosses this site by happenstance, Material Way = Matt Weldon. What social media I maintain can be found at LinkedIn.
What else am I doing these days? Note the pictures below.
Keeping up with kids - they are on fire! College, science competitions, rock climbing, music, fencing, astronomy presentations, puppy raisers...who knew such fun and interesting people would appear on the scene?! As of 2022 Ben is in graduate school at Stanford, Evan is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Biology at Texas A&M, Marten is suffering too much time with his parents at home during the age of COVID.
I served as an Electric Utility Commission (EUC) member representing District 6 of the City of Austin. I was honored that my City Councilman, Jimmy Flannigan, asked me to participate on this commission and I finished a term in the summer of 2021. The city's governance structure has many boards and commissions that wield relatively little direct authority but do serve as as a means of community oversight and provide a mechanism for citizenry to aid in issue prioritization. The EUC is the primary citizen oversight body for Austin Energy (AE), the largest city department, a billion dollar enterprise, and the 8th largest publicly owned electric utility. I used this role to great effect to champion internal carbon pricing and the REACH (Reduce Emissions Affordably for Climate Health) program came from these efforts - reducing citywide electric generation emissions by 30% in its first year of employ!
Dairy farmer: this is a familial activity into which each generation is drafted due to an Illinois farm established in 1849. Heartfelt thanks is given to my grandfather, who purchased the farm from his Uncle Lincoln (who had no children and passed away while still residing on the farm) to keep it in the family. The cousins and I are appreciative and love the time we spend there. There are some hot summer days, when painting or mucking the barn, that make one wonder if the enterprise has sufficient legs to continue on in its current form. The times are changing and challenging but our industrious tenant's focus is now on providing livestock and services to a larger regional dairy, so all is well for the moment. I'm sure you have heard the one about how to end up owning a small farm: First, you start with a large farm...
Guide Dog training for use by the blind - my association to this activity is through my wife, Minda, and the boys, though having dogs about is always good. We also often act as substitute sitters for full time puppy raisers who have short term conflicts. Evan conveyed his third puppy, Toro, to advanced training. Marten had this dog's brother, Trolley, who is now also in advanced training. Marten received his second dog, Sirius, before Christmas 2021 - a fortunate family addition and source of entertainment for which we were grateful during Omicron's round of social curtailment.
Climate change and emission pricing. This is an engrossing and challenging problem to which I am sensitized by my continual visits to my childhood home in southern Colorado. High altitude regions are among those affected most quickly as snow loss creates a rapid local feedback loop where the effects of shorter winters, faster snow melts, and longer hotter summers are quite visible.
Trying to convince political leadership to acknowledge the issue, to take mitigating action, and embrace the idea that competitive markets not only make sense but can be good for us, is more challenging than it should be. We certainly seem more interested in protecting the corporate status quo than actually enabling competitive capitalism, but I find volunteering time to the task to be a rewarding if Sisyphean pursuit.
The US still has great opportunity for economic growth and world policy leadership on this issue - the net good of action looks large. Inaction simply looks silly - embracing all risk with no upside potential, while forfeiting many real benefits such as better near term pricing value for American fossil fuel products (the US enjoys high energy/carbon ratio natural resources - but we get no environmental bonus for these better raw fuels in the current market design). Pricing emissions at $0 perfectly socializes all risks and damages. Inaction is the path to maximize risk and damages - and unfortunately the one we are currently on. Taking action can address a number of physical, market, and social issues at the same time. Some links for consideration:
Citizens Climate Lobby - I feel fortunate to have found a grass roots organization that supports a reasonable policy. Read up! Specifically review the "REMI study" - a 3rd party review of policy impact on the economy from a reputable analysis organization, and the news is good even just based on jobs and GDP. Environmental benefits are merely an existentially important added bonus.
Miracle of miracles, decent bills with bi-partisan sponsorship(!) were introduced in both house and senate late in 2018, largely following the CCL policy recommendation: Energy Innovation & Carbon Dividend Act -H.R.7173 and S. 3791 - "To create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund for the American people in order to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies and market efficiencies which will reduce harmful pollution and leave a healthier, more stable, and more prosperous nation for future generations." Learn more at: https://energyinnovationact.org/
This bill was re-introduced in the 117th congress as H. R. 2307 . It is one of several bills now supporting carbon pricing but it remains among the most ambitious and highly supported and has the largest number of co-sponsors. We still have a window to lead on this topic and avert the all too real danger of triggering environmental "tipping points" - but we are well into danger zone and are making the challenge harder still. We need to stop dithering and act!!
Climate Leadership Council - James Baker participates and late great George Shultz participated in this initiative. They are among the best elder statesmen of the Republican Party and informed my own early political thought when I reached voting age. I feel honored to share their company on this topic. CLC has gone on to produce some good analysis assessing the effects of rational emission pricing policy on the US economy.
In Colorado when circumstances allow.
UT Austin Pickle Research Campus
A Bluebonnets photo I took at the campus' east entrance
An oldie but goody from 2012. We lost Aspen Nov. 2021
Mix Lake near Platoro, Colorado