Written by coWORKer Linda Jay

It would be safe to say that Rob Budny’s work life is consumed by his interest in gears, bearings, and wind turbines.

He started working in the wind industry 13 years ago, for a wind turbine manufacturer, as a mechanical engineer.  In 2013, he started RBB Engineering, a consultancy, working mostly for wind farm operators.  The mission of RBB Engineering is to increase the reliability of, and decrease the cost of, rotating equipment.

Rob is also a cofounder of, and VP of Reliability Engineering at, Ensemble Energy. That company is a larger enterprise, and has excellent prospects for growth.  It applies machine learning (a rapidly growing field) to improving reliability and reducing the cost of energy production, starting with wind energy. The company has few competitors; one is General Electric.

Ensemble Energy predicts and prevents future failures in wind turbine components by analyzing operational data produced by the turbine, using machine learning algorithms developed by the company. The Ensemble Energy technology also identifies underperforming turbines and provides operators feedback on how they can improve turbine production.  A simple example of predicting and preventing failure would be identifying a bearing without sufficient grease. If caught in time, grease can be added to the bearing, and a costly failure can be prevented. Ensemble Energy uses cloud computing to continually analyze turbine data, eliminating the need for need for time consuming analysis of the data by a human analyst.

Rob and Dani, his life partner of over 20 years, moved to Petaluma four years ago after 10 years in Santa Barbara. Dani was transferred to a new job,  Research Coordinator for the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Bodega Bay.  The couple originally met on the crew team at UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), where both were attending school.  For fun, they love to go hiking and wine-tasting, and to travel – in fact, they’ll visit Japan for two weeks this month.

As for Rob’s impression of WORK, he says: “Like all of the best businesses, WORK has a purpose beyond making money. The purpose of WORK is to create community and support local entrepreneurs.  I loved it the first time I set foot in the building.  I’ve hired professionals from WORK to help me build my business, and I’ve made many friends at WORK.  Having only a home office was isolating for me; being at WORK and interacting with other coWORKers makes me feel like I’m part of Petaluma.”

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