All Thayer News

On the Job: Peter May-Ostendorp '03 Th'04

Dec 01, 2022   |   Dartmouth Engineer

Director, Construction Software Engineering

After 15 years improving energy efficiency in buildings, May-Ostendorp recently switched to the supply side of energy at startup Terabase Energy. From his home base in Durango, Colo.—where he lives with wife Mariah '04 and their three kids—he is helping develop a system to use factory automation techniques, autonomous vehicles, and artificial intelligence to improve the construction of mega- and gigawatt-scale solar plants.

"I'm reminded often of my experiences at Thayer working problems in a multidisciplinary manner."

Peter May-Ostendorp '03 Th'04

What does your role entail?

I direct the development software systems used to operate field factories that build large-scale photovoltaic plants. It taps into a mix of skills I started developing at Thayer, including mechanical systems, data science, systems modeling, and operations research principles to bear to operate a "factory floor" in harsh, remote environments. We take nothing for granted. In addition to software, I help field a lot of basic infrastructure needs to ensure our teams can establish a digital beachhead in remote, harsh environments.

What skills are essential to your role as director?

My most essential skill is versatility in communication: being able to operate down in the weeds with developers and provide technical guidance on nuts-and-bolts coding issues and then, in the next conversation, translate that work to mechanical engineers or business colleagues. I don’t think I will ever perfect this skill, and the only way to learn it is through repeated failure!

What makes your work with Terabase unique?

My team is developing software systems to orchestrate the assembly and installation of truly massive solar plants. Sites can span multiple square miles. The complexity of coordinating operations on that scale in a repeatable and largely automated matter is high to begin with. And consider we have to develop that software while the next generation of our factories are being designed. We operate in a highly uncertain and underdefined environment and need to rely on good design instincts and agile processes to ensure we build the right products.

For contacts and other media information visit our Media Resources page.