30 Under 30: Christina Borgese
San Ramon, CA
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Christina is as much an engineer as she is an entrepreneur. Which explains why she quit her stable job in corporate America—specifically as a process engineer at Clorox—to, as she explains it, “go save the American economy.”
She went to a startup, BioFuelBox, where she and a former Clorox colleague, Marc Privitera, developed and scaled the world’s first commercial scale supercritical biodiesel reactor with technology licensed from Idaho National Labs. The system would convert waste trap grease typically sent to landfills into ASTM 6751 biodiesel at a rate of 1MMGPY.
In 2010, BioFuelBox was recognized with a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer award—the same year as Twitter.
“Joining a startup is considered a big risk,” Christina said, adding, “The biodiesel adventure was excellent. I love the fast pace of the venture capital world. We scaled the system from bench to pilot to commercial scale in fourteen months.”
Ultimately, the business succumbed to the economic downturn. But Christina brushed it off, thankful for the experience and in 2010 launched PreProcess, Inc. with Privitera. PreProcess, a chemical engineering consulting firm for entrepreneurs, has major clients and oversees manufacturing projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
It all feels natural to Christina, who recently turned 30. “PreProcess practices entrepreneurial engineering as compared to traditional engineering firms. Entrepreneurs must be able to decide, focus, and pivot and the technical firm supporting them must be able to do the same,” she said.
Today, Privitera wrote in his nomination letter, “Christina is responsible for over ten products on the shelves of supermarkets, countless thousands of gallons of biodiesel in fuel tanks, and producing literally tons of materials for use in manufacturing processes.”
Privitera also noted Christina’s accomplishments at Clorox. “She started her career … in product development and then quickly put her creative aspects to use in process engineering, scaling three major solids systems from lab bench to pilot and plant scale. At Clorox she was recognized for her ability to operationalize complex systems and was awarded three patents by the USPTO.”
Christina was also a standout at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and technology management. “She was elected as Engineering Student Council President two years in a row, excelled in the Technology Management Program, and was honored with a University Award of Distinction for her contributions to the College of Engineering,” Privitera wrote.
At PreProcess, Christina and Marc founded Engineering Bootcamp, which she describes as “a finishing program transitioning employees from academic achievement to practical applications. Engineering Bootcamp is designed to provide employees new to process and manufacturing engineering with a hands-on, industry focused understanding of the concepts covered in engineering school. We offer a three day course featuring the essential building blocks of engineering in an active and engaging curriculum filled with live demonstrations, equipment, and real life examples.”
Christina also likes to give back to the STEM field and volunteers to recruit and mentor students from elementary school to university level. She believes the future strength of manufacturing in America is embodied in developing passionate and technically skilled individuals into innovative and collaborative teams. ME