As we honor and reflect on the sacrifices of those who have served in the U.S. military this Veterans Day, we are proud to spotlight a veteran who is now enlisting his talents toward a clean energy future.
Meet Veteran and Clean Energy Champion Shane Beichner, a former infantryman who served from 2002 to 2005 with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, also known as The Big Red One. He was stationed at Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany and was later deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004.
Beichner is now the operations supervisor for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO). Read what Beichner shared with us about his inspiration and commitment to both his military service and career in renewable energy.
What motivated you to join the military?
Military service was appealing to me from a young age. Even as a child I remember being awestruck by the dedication, selflessness, and personal sacrifice of the women and men of our armed forces. Having had several family members serve, including two grandfathers who served throughout various campaigns and theaters during World War II, undoubtedly cultivated an early and indelible appreciation for military service.
Given your service to this country, how do you personally recognize and reflect on Veterans Day?
My time in the service and those I served alongside are never far from my mind. They have shaped many aspects of my adult life, and I reflect on it often and fondly. I consider myself lucky to be part of the fraternity of women and men that call themselves veterans.
Having said that, Veterans Day specifically is a poignant day to take stock of the freedoms we enjoy and be grateful for our service members who have fought tirelessly to preserve and protect those freedoms, often with little acclaim or fanfare.
What inspired your transition from military service to a career in clean energy?
I enrolled in college during the last year of my enlistment. At the time, I had given little to no thought of a career in renewable energy. It just wasn’t on my radar as a 20-year-old serving a 13-month deployment in Iraq. It really wasn’t until I graduated in 2010 and moved to the District of Columbia that I started getting interested in climate change and the role that a robust renewable energy industry could play in reducing emissions.
I started exploring business management opportunities at DOE, which landed me an analyst position supporting the Bioenergy Technologies Office (shoutout to BETO!). While in that role, I familiarized myself with the exciting work happening throughout the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s renewable power portfolio, and wind energy specifically was of unique interest to me. A detail opportunity with WETO became available, and I quickly jumped at the opportunity. The rest is history.
What are you most excited about in wind energy right now and for the future?
This is a watershed moment for renewable energy, not just in the United States but throughout the entire world. Wind energy has been growing rapidly and will continue to do so as we advance our clean energy agenda. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of the transition and have some small part to play in a cleaner sustainable energy future for generations to come.
What advice would you offer to current service members, veterans, or young professionals about working in renewable energy?
Get involved early, and take advantage of educational, training, and apprenticeship programs to develop your skill set. There’s a whole world of networks and resources available to help develop and refine your subject matter knowledge.
And don’t forget to subscribe to WETO’s Catch the Wind newsletter to stay informed on the latest wind energy news and updates!
On behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy, we thank all veterans like Beichner for their dedication, selflessness, and personal sacrifice.
Are you a veteran or military spouse who is interested in a career in renewable energy? Learn more about DOE’s programs, opportunities, and resources for veterans.