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Tony Coiro

Physicist at Hope Energy

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Tony Coiro in a boat.

"College was the perfect opportunity for me to learn to be brave and take chances. I got involved in startups, started a club and gave a few speeches. It all pushed me way outside of my comfort zone but it has allowed me to do what I do now with less apprehension and more focus."

What was your major/minor at Purdue and when did you graduate?

I graduated in May 2012 with a BS in Physics and an Entrepreneurship Certificate.

What drove you to pursue your current career path?

I like adventure and have had the feeling I need to move to Africa for a long time, so when the opportunity arose, I took it. Working in a foreign country really stretches you as a person but I have enjoyed it. Also, Africa is a rapidly expanding market with very real growth happening resulting in a massive need for energy of any kind. Best of all, without significant existing infrastructure throughout the continent, the opportunity to bypass distributed, coal fired energy to renewable energy is very economically viable; much like how Africa leapfrogged landlines and went straight to mobile phones.

What are you currently working on? 

I am living and working in Johannesburg, South Africa for Hope Energy, an early stage renewable energy company. We are using a new and very disruptive business model which is gaining traction in the market here.

What were you most afraid of when you were about to graduate?

During graduation, I was competing in an international electric vehicle race with some of my best friends from college. I was afraid our battery pack would undergo a series of unplanned, spontaneous deconstructions and then explode, causing us to lose the race. It didn’t. My advice would be to avoid explosions and attend graduation.

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?

I took a job and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. Since then I’ve played with baby lions, slept in a tent in Botswana surrounded by hyenas, cage dove with great white sharks, been charged by an elephant or two, was the only witness in a police corruption investigation, went scuba diving with a whale shark and spent 3 days on a boat on the Okavango River delta. Rumor has it that in my spare time, I actually have a real job.

What would you give prospective or current Purdue students about how to make the best use of what Purdue offers?

Everyone has dreams of what they want their life to be but success doesn’t happen in a montage. If you want to do something, you need to drive it. Be bold and fearless. #yolo.

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