After graduating from The Hun School, Michael Gidding ’08 studied chemical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and earned an BS/M.Eng Chemical Engineering and MBA in Business Administration and Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering.
hile an undergraduate, Mr. Gidding became heavily involved in research science. He believes each research effort was fundamentally valuable as an independent experience. While not every experiment was successful, each endeavor has led to a new mentor, a new skill set, and ultimately a new opportunity. Mr. Gidding explained, “Every trail is a learning opportunity, even if it has nothing to do with your next idea or technology. Spin your failures into your next opportunity.”
During his process to find research teams, Mr. Gidding uncovered aerosol science, the study of very fine particles of a liquid or solid suspended in a gas. He teamed up with Inventor-Professor Pratim Biswas and began researching ways to remove dangerous particles from air. Simultaneous to exploring the science, Mr. Gidding and his classmate Daniel Garcia began to research the marketability of the science and the possibility of creating a business together. They were pleased to discover quite a few commercial applications. It was this parallel approach of science and commercial consideration that led to their co-founding and launch of Aerosol Control Technologies (ACT).
ACT is a clean energy company that offers technology to remove harmful particles from the air. It sounds simple, but it is rather complicated – even more so when attempting replicate it with high efficiency. Mr. Gidding and Mr. Garcia anticipate opportunities in the mining industry, science laboratories, factories, computer micro-processor facilities, and even bio terrorism response. The ultimate goal is acquisition. They are developing the technology, but need funding to go into commercial production.
While Mr. Gidding and his partners believe strongly in the importance of their technology, Mr. Gidding also believes that his path to success could be applied to a broad range of industries. “I’ve entered dozens of business competitions in the last five years. And, while I won valuable seed money for a variety of projects, ($80,000 total) the greatest advantage was the network I have accumulated,” said Mr. Gidding.
He explained, “I enrolled at Washington University with an understanding of the peer review system largely because of Mr. Gilroy’s AP Physics project. This also helped me understand how professors think about their jobs. In my freshman year research, I developed metal nano-particles for novel catalytic, drug delivery, and bio-imaging applications. Some of the research contributed to publications in ACS Nano and Small, which has been cited more than 100 times since publication. This exposure to academic research gave me a hands-on appreciation for the development of novel technologies, which relates to my entrepreneurial interests.”
Mr. Gidding encourages academic risk-taking. “I enrolled in a graduate-level chemistry course, Quantum Chemistry, as a sophomore. Completing advanced coursework early enabled my unique degree program. Hun prepared me for this through its own rigorous coursework.”
He also urges college students to take full advantage of the academic communities universities offer. “School is a great safety net for trying new things, including great networking. People love student-entrepreneurs. Get involved in undergraduate research. If you wind up finding a technology you like, there’s a lot of opportunity to move it forward. There’s a lot of money going into research. Then if you can commercialize it, work with the school to earn a patent.” He added, “People are friendlier to students; don’t squander that opportunity – or the .edu email address.”
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school. Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.