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Engineering grad turning heads in Silicon Valley by turning waste into fuels

Monem Alyaser, Ph.D, credits Laurentian as foundational to his success

(January 26, 2023) - It sounds like something out of a movie - turning trash into valuable goods. For Monem Alyaser, Ph.D, it’s an average day in Silicon Valley. 

Alyaser is the Founder and CEO of Enventix, Inc, a company established in 2010 to develop advanced thermo-chemical systems for the conversion of non recyclable waste paper and plastics, biomass and shredded tires to valuable commodities and bioenergy. While perseverance has supported Alyaser’s entrepreneurial efforts, he recognizes Laurentian University as foundational to his success. Alyaser graduated from the Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering (1990) before furthering his education in Metals & Materials Engineering at the University of British Columbia (Masters, 1993; Ph.D, 1998). 

Originally from Libya, Alyaser began his studies and quickly found his footing: “I just loved Sudbury. I made great friends and found that community members were very welcoming. My experience at Laurentian was amazing. It was a small school, so I got a lot of one-on-one time with my professors. I was very fortunate.” Alyaser credits the attentive professors as well as hands-on experience obtained in laboratories, as critical to his future achievements in engineering. 

As a Laurentian student, Alyaser was awarded a JP Bickell Foundation scholarship for academic excellence. His interest in research, especially in pyro-metallurgy, catalyzed his interest to work each summer on campus under the mentorship of faculty, including Drs. Paul Lindon, Laxman Amaratunga, and Werner Dresler. “I enjoyed working in the labs because by the time I graduated from Laurentian, I already had a lot of experience under my belt.” 

While attending the University of British Columbia, Alyaser worked closely with Dr. James Keith Brimacombe, who guided Alyaser in his graduate research about the extraction of copper during the masters degree and then in studies of combustion and fluid dynamics in high temperature reactors for the Ph.D. “He was an amazing man who believed in doing research to solve actual problems in life,” Alyaser described, while also asserting that this perspective influenced his own mindset as an engineer. “This is what engineering is all about - solving problems in the most efficient way.” 

While for Alyaser, efficiency in engineering is important, so is ensuring that engineering practices keep in mind the sustainability of the environment. That’s why Enventix thermo-chemical systems are designed and integrated based on state-of-the-art technologies to offer the optimal carbon emissions reduction potential in processing of the most challenging feedstocks with scalability, reliability, efficiency and profitability. “We at Enventix are proud of the solutions we have developed, not only to combat climate change but also to make the world a better place. The reduction of waste and enabling a circular economy is a top priority.” 

It was when Alyaser was a Ph.D. candidate that he began to foster an interest in business. In fact, he is a repeat entrepreneur, having previously founded a company called Combustion and Process Technology, Inc. “I started this company at such a young age and without much experience as to how to run it, but I was driven by that,” he explains. 

With the goal to develop his business skills, he enrolled in an entrepreneurship program offered by the Canadian government in British Columbia, in 1998-1999. Later and after joining a startup called Asetek as their VP of Business Development and Applications Engineering, he attended several business programs including an Executive program: Interpersonal Dynamics For High Performance Executives at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. This program found Monem engaging with other senior-level executives to master interpersonal exchanges and develop attributes to cultivate strong professional relationships. “I read many books and also attended workshops on project management, product development, startups, business development, sales and marketing. It is not just engineering that I had to keep learning, it was finance, sales and marketing too.”  

“My advice, especially given that the world of engineering is rapidly changing, is for engineers to be taught to be entrepreneurs. That is my advice to aspiring engineers who really want to make a big difference in their career efforts. If you are driven to make a big impact, this will help you succeed.. Also, remember that there is value in every learning opportunity. Try hard and enjoy the ride as every learning opportunity will bring more value to you, your career and your life, just consider your university education as the best gift you receive.” 

Monem Alyaser, Ph.D is one of over 70,600 successful Laurentian University alumni