Sakti3 Founder Sastry to Step Down From U-M
Detroit Xconomist Ann Marie Sastry, founder and CEO of the advanced battery startup Sakti3, has announced that she is stepping down from her post at the University of Michigan, where she has served as the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering. Sastry will be honored at a reception on June 15 hosted by the university and Michigan’s Congressional delegation.
We caught up with Sastry, who was on her way to Xconomy’s Napa Summit, to ask her some questions via e-mail. She says she was honored to be a part of U-M, which she describes as a “great research institution,” and is proud of her contributions to the university, which include her work with the Energy Systems Engineering Program and the Academic Lives Initiative, as well as mentoring students to the point that they are now successful professionals. Sastry also says she looks forward to continuing the positive relationship between U-M and Sakti3, which was spun out of technology developed at the university.
“Fundamentally, I do think that people bringing experience from academia, industry, nonprofits, and government to one another is healthy—it makes for interesting people and interesting workplaces,” Sastry notes. “The reality is that each of these sectors has profoundly different objectives, but the learnings from each are incredibly valuable, so long as the focus on the objectives stays sharp. So I feel that we can bring the best intentions of the university to an industrial exercise, of creating good technologies that are profitable and that sustain the enterprise, while having an impact that is different, but very important, in society.”
Sastry is stepping down to focus the entirety of her professional attention on building Sakti3 into a “great company” that creates technology to improve people’s lives. “We are scaling up operations, and although there is no one moment in a company’s development that is the sole critical point, this one is very important,” she says.
She gave a special shout-out to her colleagues at U-M who will take over some of her duties and maintain the programs she started. “The sustainability of these efforts is not only due to planning on the part of all of the collaborators, which has been going on for over two years, but also due to to the quality of the faculty that are running them, particularly Professor Wei Lu, Professor Margaret Wooldridge, and of course Professor Christian Lastoskie,” Sastry adds.
She had more to say about Lastoskie: “Professor Lastoskie is my longest term collaborator—our best efforts are our two beautiful children, Katie and Peter, and we’ve collaborated professionally for many years as well. I’m fortunate that we are also finding ways to work together even now, as he’s built collaborations with my team on the sustainability of Sakti3’s products.”
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