David Mackanic was named a featured honoree for 2021 Forbes "30 under 30" in the category of Energy, recognizing young innovators who are making a big impact.

The 27-year-old entrepreneur and innovator started his professional journey as a mechanical engineering major at Virginia Tech, completing his undergraduate degree between 2011 and 2015. While he was seeking that first degree, he also spent a lot of time engaged in undergraduate research, immersing himself in the science that would eventually inspire inventions of his own.

The labs of Michael Ellis, Robert Moore, and Scott Huxtable became Mackanic’s second home, and he enrolled in internships to increase his knowledge of the industry. From his sophomore year on, Mackanic dove into learning the basics of energy transfer and the properties of the materials that store energy. As a student, he helped develop polymers and nanomaterials that go to work in high-performance batteries, and learned how to change their properties to make them work even better.

What kept him diligent wasn’t learning the science, though, Mackanic said. He was motivated by the potential of those technologies to do something important. “I wasn’t always a science kid,” said Mackanic. “But once I got into engineering, I felt a sense of duty to use my technical skills to make an impact in the world.”

That focus kept him moving through his senior year, with Mackanic finishing his undergraduate experience in a senior design project on the hybrid electric vehicle team. As he looked for his next step, he was drawn to the technology hub of Silicon Valley. This led him to apply to Stanford University, pursue his doctorate, and capitalize on the innovative environment of the area.

The atmosphere was one in which Mackanic flourished. In pursuit of his Ph.D., he continued developing new technology for batteries and found peers who also had experience in commercializing technologies. With confidence in his product development and new business insight, he launched Anthro Energy.

The company soon picked up several accolades. In 2020, Anthro was a semi-finalist for the MIT Clean Energy Prize and won startup funds from several different innovation groups. Even in this cycle of growth, Mackanic remains focused on his foundational beliefs.

“I want to use my time in a way that makes a difference, and my main goal is to see the technology become a reality,” Mackanic said. “I’ve seen science as a way to create meaningful change, and that’s something I want to pursue.”

— Written by Alex Parrish