Leon Baptiste, President and CEO of LB Electric, was named an NCE Outstanding Alumnus.
Leon Baptiste enrolled in the Newark College of Engineering in 1985 through the Educational Opportunity Program.
EOP helps minority students build careers in science and technology. When he was a student, an EOP staff member took an interest in him and helped him get an internship at Nordling, Dean Electric Co. He did so well on the internship that Nordling hired him to work there part-time when school resumed. And that internship turned into Baptiste’s first job after college.
After he graduated from NCE in 1991 with a degree in electrical engineering, he was hired by Nordling to work as an engineer. He stayed at the company until 2000, when he left to found his own start-up company, LB Electric Co., which designs, installs and maintains electrical systems and solar arrays for companies, school, hospitals and government agencies. He started LB Electric in NJIT’s Enterprise Development Center, a small business incubator. And recently, LB has done some major work.
Two years ago, LB did electrical and lighting work on the new Giants Stadium -- Met Life Stadium. It was year-long job and a multi-million dollar project. And in the summer of 2004, Baptiste installed a solar array on the roof of NJIT’s Campus Center. An array of 160 solar panels -- a 50-kilowatt system -- converts sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic cells that cover each panel. The panels help power the Campus Center and reduce the university's electric bills. Trackers on the solar array permit the panels to follow the sun’s path and collect energy.
The solar roof is also environmentally benign. By reducing the need for electricity from coal-burning power plants, it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury released into the air.
For another NJIT project, LB installed a solar and hot water heater system on the roof of Oak Hall, an NJIT dormitory. The new system reduces the hall’s electrical energy use by 50 percent and its fossil energy use by 40 percent.
LB is also involved in education and training. Baptiste has partnered with NJIT’s Division of Continuing Education, whose courses train hundreds of inner city residents and retired military veterans to work in the solar industry. LB is also trying to partner with educators in Cameroon, Africa, who would offer online classes in solar energy to students there. He’s developing that project with the Division of Continuing Education and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NJIT.
LB’s latest effort is designing and installing what are known as building integrated photovoltaic solar systems (BIPV). In BIPV systems, curtain walls replace a building’s windows. The curtain walls look like windows but generate solar electric power.
Baptiste is also active in environmental conservation efforts. He advises executives, politicians and entrepreneurs on the importance of using renewable energy and alternative fuels. He loves being an engineer and an entrepreneur and he’s grateful to NCE for giving him his start in life.
He often returns to NJIT to talk to and mentor students and he’s on the Advisory Board for the Interdisciplinary Design Program, an Albert Dorman Honors College initiative that trains students to become innovators and entrepreneurs.
“When I was an NCE student, the staff gave me advice, direction and mentorship, things all students need,” says Baptiste, who was recently named an NCE Outstanding Alumnus. "I learned to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow and I’ll never forget that.”
(By Robert Florida)