Alumnus' Company Featured in Washington Post Story

CloudSolar Inc., a startup company co-founded by Fischell Department of Bioengineering graduate student Michael Armani (Ph.D. '10, formerly advised by Associate Professor Benjamin Shapiro and Elisabeth Smela [Department of Mechanical Engineering]), was recently the subject of the Washington Post's "Business Rx" column.

"CloudSolar is ready to heat up its business" describes how Armani, the company's president and CTO, used his expertise in biofluid design to create a more efficient, environmentally friendly version of the liquid used in solar panels to collect, retain and distribute heat. Armani teamed up with Ramik Chopra (M.B.A. '10), who became CloudSolar's COO, to market a better solar heating system for swimming pools. The pair pitched their product concept at the 2010 University of Maryland $75K Business Plan Competition, where it received a Warren Citrin Social Impact Award.

Since then, CloudSolar has identified nine commercial applications for their product and is developing other kinds of fluids that can be used in a variety of heat transfer and heat exchange processes. The company is currently working on narrowing its focus and searching for licensing partners.

In the Post column, Asher Epstein, managing director, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, responds to CloudSolar's questions about how to proceed with advice about licensing, prioritizing, looking beyond the technology to marketable "end to end" solutions, and reducing perceived risks for potential investors.

Armani is optimistic about the future, and encourages other engineering students to consider making entrepreneurship part of theirs.

"Now that I've completed my Ph.D. and have more time, I think you'll see much more progress from CloudSolar," he says. "I'd like to use this as an opportunity to [tell] current engineering students [that] jobs are tough to get and this is a great time to get back to our roots of a hard-working entrepreneurial America. UMD has been an especially kind place for us to start a company and meet other entrepreneurs."

CloudSolar is expanding—Armani says he and Chopra are currently looking for a part-time intern to join the team. "We're looking for someone with lab experience to help us characterize thermodynamic material properties and to develop novel heat transfer fluids over for the next six months. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to improve his or her resume to get a job in the green-tech industry."

To learn more about the position, visit the CloudSolar website at

Related Stories:

"CloudSolar is ready to heat up its business" (Washington Post web site) »
"BioE Students, Alumni Win Prizes at UM $75K Business Plan Competition" »

Published November 19, 2010