Civil Engineering alumnus finds success in entrepreneurship

June 21, 2016

Alumnus, Doug CampbellDoug Campbell is an engineer by training, but he considers himself an entrepreneur first.

The president and CEO of Solid Power Inc. and Roccor, LLC, both based in Colorado, said the technical background he received at UNM’s Department of Civil Engineering (he earned both a bachelor’s and master’s from the department) has been invaluable in his career, but his personality pushed him more toward the business world.

“I worked as an aerospace engineer for a brief time, but I quickly realized I was a ‘close enough’ engineer,” he said. “Engineers like to answer ‘How?,’ but I like to answer the question, ‘Why?’ “

Campbell co-founded Solid Power, which is developing ultra high-energy, low-cost rechargeable batteries and was recently named the fastest growing private company in the Boulder Valley. He also co-founded Roccor, which specializes in innovative, high-performance, deployable structures and thermal management solutions for satellite and terrestrial military and commercial markets. Each company has about 20 employees.

Campbell, an Albuquerque native, chose UNM because it was nearby, but he stayed around for graduate school because of the connections he made both in the School of Engineering and in the nearby technical community. He worked on structural mechanics and aerospace-related projects with Arup Maji in Civil Engineering, who connected him with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), where he worked while a graduate student.

“The thing that I really liked about UNM was the fairly close-knit community in Civil Engineering, which is possible because the class sizes are fairly small,” he said. “Also, the proximity to AFRL and Sandia provided a great opportunity to gain experience and get off campus.”

Campbell loves his job as an entrepreneur, saying, “I’ve ruined myself for regular employment.”

“I love the sink-or-swim environment,” he said. “For some people, that’s immensely terrifying, but for me, it’s immensely gratifying.”

Next for Campbell will be growing and likely spinning off his start-ups, possibly starting new companies, along with continuing his consulting role in technology transfer with national laboratories, and some day investing in technologies himself.

A former professional mountain biker, Campbell still enjoys biking, as well as skiing, camping and traveling, and attending his children’s soccer activities.