Former Monarch Andrea Anez leads her team, MoreSolar, to first place at the New Venture Competition
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
SANTA BARBARA – Former Monarch long distance runner Andrea Anez has had a freshman year to remember at University of California Santa Barbara. In the fall she helped the Gauchos win the Big West Conference in cross country. Late last month, she along with her three teammates won the New Venture Competition, the first freshman-led team to accomplish such a feat in the contest’s 19-year history. They were awarded two checks totaling $12,500, and have secured funding to patent their design for their clean energy company MoreSolar.
“To be honest, we really never expected to win,” Anez said. “It started off just as something fun for us to do. But as it went on, we got increasingly serious.”
A bioengineering and physics major, Anez entered college with an added interest in entrepreneurship, and she was drawn to the first competition’s first meeting in the fall quarter, when she was right in the middle of a busy cross country season. From the beginning, she knew it was going to be a juggling act, but the learning experience was one she couldn’t pass up.
For eight months, teams earn a wide variety of educational experiences. In the fall quarter, teams have to brainstorm new business ideas. In the winter quarter, students were able to take a preparation course and sit in on seminars. To Anez, renewable energy seemed like the way to go.
“Solar technology is the next thing, and I think it is increasing in size every year,” Anez said.
MoreSolar’s invention would not be another device to put on top of a structure. Instead, it uses wind power as a method for cleaning solar panels which are losing productive power due to soiling.
While Anez had been selected as CEO of MoreSolar, she was not alone. Over the months of planning and designing, she was joined by three other teammates. The first to join was Pete Makrygiannis, an engineering major. He and Anez met and became friends during their first weeks of work together. Atal Agaruals was the first of two graduate students to join the team. He was recommended to Anez by the head of the program, Dave Adornetto. The last to join the team was Colette King, who was also a graduate student.
Occasionally, Anez’s time had to be spent on other areas of her college life, until March when she suffered a stress fracture in her right leg effectively ending her track season for the Gauchos.
While the injury hindered Anez’s athletic career, it did come at an opportune time in regards to the New Venture Competition. The injury occurred just as the contest was beginning to heat up.
“I had some extra free time, so I was able to focus on the contest some more,” Anez said.
Anez was able to compete in four different meets for the Gauchos this past spring. She clocked 10 minutes, 43.75 seconds in the 3,000-meter run for seventh place during a tri-meet against Westmont and Pepperdine.