Decision Making | It’s All About Your Mindset

portrait of Shivani Chotalia
Shivani Chotalia

Decision-making behind pursuing a specific academic path.

  • Shivani didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she initially applied for business school. She came across Western’s Ivey Business School in her third year and took on the challenge of taking up another degree since it was allowed to have a dual degree at the time. She then found her way into engineering, something she didn’t know much of but knew it focused on science and math which she enjoyed.
  • After realizing she had a great interest in climate and environmental issues, she decided to study green process engineering, which had a chemical engineering focus too. Looking at where she’s at today, it served her well. 
  • As a young person still in university, being able to really make an impact on what companies need to grow and being exposed to all aspects of the business can really excite you in starting your own business. Being on the side of the table where decisions on how to build infrastructures, execute and grow accompany are liberating.

How Engineers Without Borders influenced her learning journey and where she is today.

  • Engineers Without Borders is an international development organization that does work in a handful of countries in Africa, supporting various ventures.  EWB was very formative, like any kind of extracurricular and leadership-like activities that young people are pursuing. The experience at that particular point in her life gave her an opportunity to work as a leader amongst others. 
  • EWB teaches you how to run a small organization, and understand the dynamics of how to organize others, execute certain projects, and manage responsibilities. It’s an organization that teaches you how to support economic growth and development and support new businesses in specific international countries. 
  • It teaches you about advocacy, working with procurement at the university – you work with university policymakers, to figure out how we make change happen. How we get the right support from students, and from various folks on campus. You work from both a grassroots level and directly with students to advocate for change.

What is Energy Storage

  • Energy storage is the storage of electricity, these are electrons that we have in our electricity grid. The way the system works right now is that every time you turn your lights on, run the washing machine, use electricity in any way.  While you’re using those electrons, somebody puts those electrons onto the grid, which comes from fossil fuel generation, coal, gas, or hydro generation.
  • Unfortunately, electricity systems don’t have any buffer – they’re constantly trying to match supply and demand at every point in time. And so energy storage is a new tool that provides that inventory in the middle, to be able to take electrons when it isn’t needed, hold on to them, and then use them when they’re needed.  
  • The challenge with those sources of energy is that they are variable or intermittent. That means you can’t control when the sun is shining, and when your electrons can be produced, or when the wind is blowing and when those electrons are going to be produced. For example, the wind is really strong at night when there isn’t a lot of loads. Being able to take that electricity, and use it when you actually need it, becomes important as we transition to net-zero energy.