Saving the World, One Electron Beam at a Time

Sharona Jacobs
UPOP student Katie Rowe ’10 found her summer internship at Advanced Electron Beams to be a "valuable experience."
Dori Peleg

Advanced Electron Beams (AEB), in Wilmington, Mass., is revolutionizing green energy, one electron at a time. 

“Electrons are the cleanest form of energy,” says Anne Testoni, director of marketing and applications development. “They put energy right where you want it—at the bonding between atoms—and can be used to cure paint, sterilize food, and remove pollutants in the air.” 

Over the last three years, AEB has become one of UPOP’s most outstanding partners, with its core passion for innovation, its imaginative spirit, and its commitment to providing valuable experiences for interns.

While the basic industrial electron beam technology has existed since the 1970s, AEB set itself apart when the company founder, Tovi Avnery, conceived of the AEB Emitter in 1997. Before the AEB Emitter, traditional systems were very large, expensive, and complex to maintain. Because of this, it was difficult—or sometimes impossible—to integrate the electron beams into manufacturing equipment, and manufacturers’ design processes were constrained by the configuration of off-site electron beams. 

AEB says it delivers electron beams in a form factor that is “up to 10 times less expensive and 100 times more compact in size.” Testoni likens the value of the new technology to that of being able to wash a car yourself, rather than having to haul it to a car wash facility into which your car may or may not fit.

Increasing environmental concerns have expanded the market for the AEB Emitter.

“Pursuing our type of technology makes sense economically and ecologically,” says Testoni. “We enable companies to go green by producing highly efficient modular electron beam technology. We have a passion to bring this to industry.” 

This passion stood out to chemical engineering major Katie Rowe, who interned with AEB this summer. 

“The leaders in AEB are all convinced that electron beams are the future and their technology will change the way the world works,” she wrote in her summer journal. 

Founded in 1999 by Avnery and now venture-capital funded, AEB retains a “tech-y, start-uppy” feel, says Testoni, with the corresponding spirit of innovation, creativity, and free communication. 

The approximately 50 employees work in a close team-oriented environment that is extended to the interns.

The philosophy is simple, says Testoni. “We bring them in and assume they can be treated like a regular employee. We give them real projects, under the mentorship of at least one experienced engineer. We say: here’s your project. We let them think about how to approach it, and encourage them to talk about the project, be part of the work team, to present their work, to write reports.” 

Mechanical Engineering major Zihao Zhang ’10, who conducted a product development internship this summer, found that his AEB experience was both a challenge and a boost to his interpersonal skills: “I handled projects independently and in that effect, I developed more confidence. I required less help from my superiors over time.” 

Katie Rowe ’10 had the opportunity to work on-site with one of AEB’s Fortune 500 clients: “I spent a week in Oklahoma working on-site in a factory with my supervisors. I was very impressed with the way they got right into the dirty work alongside me as an intern. It was also nice the way they trusted me with many projects beyond what interns are entrusted with at many other companies. This made my summer a much more valuable experience.”

AEB’s experience was equally positive. “We’ve worked with UPOP for three years,” says Testoni. “I love it! The interns have made real, concrete contributions to the [client] companies. They have invigorating perspectives, are a great addition to the company, and we enjoy having them. Each summer, our average age drops a few years and that keeps us energized!”