This Member Gets a Charge from Promoting Sustainability

For her efforts, Simay Akar receives IEEE’s Young Professionals Award

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woman standing at podium speaking and using her hands in a black dress

Akar received this year’s IEEE Theodore W. Hissey Outstanding Young Professional Award at the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit and Honors Ceremony in Boston.

Robb Cohen

Ever since she was an undergraduate student in Turkey, Simay Akar has been interested in renewable energy technology. As she progressed through her career after school, she chose not to develop the technology herself but to promote it. She has held marketing positions with major energy companies, and now she runs two startups.

One of Akar’s companies develops and manufactures lithium-ion batteries and recycles them. The other consults with businesses to help them achieve their sustainability goals.

Simay Akar


AK Energy Consulting



Member grade

Senior member

Alma mater

Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey

“I love the industry and the people in this business,” Akar says. “They are passionate about renewable energy and want their work to make a difference.”

Akar, a senior member, has become an active IEEE volunteer as well, holding leadership positions. First she served as student branch coordinator, then as a student chapter coordinator, and then as a member of several administrative bodies including the IEEE Young Professionals committee.

Akar received this year’s IEEE Theodore W. Hissey Outstanding Young Professional Award for her “leadership and inspiration of young professionals with significant contributions in the technical fields of photovoltaics and sustainable energy storage.” The award is sponsored by IEEE Young Professionals and the IEEE Photonics and Power & Energy societies.

Akar says she’s honored to get the award because “Theodore W. Hissey’s commitment to supporting young professionals across all of IEEE’s vast fields is truly commendable.” Hissey, who died in 2023, was an IEEE Life Fellow and IEEE director emeritus who supported the IEEE Young Professionals community for years.

“This award acknowledges the potential we hold to make a significant impact,” Akar says, “and it motivates me to keep pushing the boundaries in sustainable energy and inspire others to do the same.”

A career in sustainable technology

After graduating with a degree in the social impact of technology from Middle East Technical University, in Ankara, Turkey, Akar worked at several energy companies. Among them was Talesun Solar in Suzhou, China, where she was head of overseas marketing. She left to become the sales and marketing director for Eko Renewable Energy, in Istanbul.

In 2020 she founded Innoses in Shanghai. The company makes batteries for electric vehicles and customizes them for commercial, residential, and off-grid renewable energy systems such as solar panels. Additionally, Innoses recycles lithium-ion batteries, which otherwise end up in landfills, leaching hazardous chemicals.

“Recycling batteries helps cut down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” Akar says. “That’s something we can all feel good about.”

She says there are two main methods of recycling batteries: melting and shredding.

Melting batteries is done by heating them until their parts separate. Valuable metals including cobalt and nickel are collected and cleaned to be reused in new batteries.

A shredding machine with high-speed rotating blades cuts batteries into small pieces. The different components are separated and treated with solutions to break them down further. Lithium, copper, and other metals are collected and cleaned to be reused.

The melting method tends to be better for collecting cobalt and nickel, while shredding is better for recovering lithium and copper, Akar says.

“This happens because each method focuses on different parts of the battery, so some metals are easier to extract depending on how they are processed,” she says. The chosen method depends on factors such as the composition of the batteries, the efficiency of the recycling process, and the desired metals to be recovered.

“There are a lot of environmental concerns related to battery usage,” Akar says. “But, if the right recycling process can be completed, batteries can also be sustainable. The right process could keep pollution and emissions low and protect the health of workers and surrounding communities.”

woman in a white lab coat smiling for the camera while holding a blue square shaped objectAkar worked at several energy companies including Talesun Solar in Suzhou, China, which manufactures solar cells like the one she is holding.Simay Akar

Helping businesses with sustainability

After noticing many businesses were struggling to become more sustainable, in 2021 Akar founded AK Energy Consulting in Istanbul. Through discussions with company leaders, she found they “need guidance and support from someone who understands not only sustainable technology but also the best way renewable energy can help the planet,” she says.

“My goal for the firm is simple: Be a force for change and create a future that’s sustainable and prosperous for everyone,” she says.

Akar and her staff meet with business leaders to better understand their sustainability goals. They identify areas where companies can improve, assess the impact the recommended changes can have, and research the latest sustainable technology. Her consulting firm also helps businesses understand how to meet government compliance regulations.

“By embracing sustainability, companies can create positive social, environmental, and economic impact while thriving in a rapidly changing world,” Akar says. “The best part of my job is seeing real change happen. Watching my clients switch to renewable energy, adopt eco-friendly practices, and hit their green goals is like a pat on the back.”

Serving on IEEE boards and committees

Akar has been a dedicated IEEE volunteer since joining the organization in 2007 as an undergraduate student and serving as chair of her school’s student branch. After graduating, she held other roles including Region 8 student branch coordinator, student chapter coordinator, and the region’s IEEE Women in Engineering committee chair.

In her nearly 20 years as a volunteer, Akar has been a member of several IEEE boards and committees including the Young Professionals committee, the Technical Activities Board, and the Nominations and Appointments Committee for top-level positions.

She is an active member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society and is a former IEEE PES liaison to the Women in Engineering committee. She is also a past vice chair of the society’sWomen in Power group, which supports career advancement and education and provides networking opportunities.

“My volunteering experiences have helped me gain a deep understanding of how IEEE operates,” she says. “I’ve accumulated invaluable knowledge, and the work I’ve done has been incredibly fulfilling.”

As a member of the IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu honor society, Akar has mentored members of the next generation of technologists. She also served as a mentor in the IEEE Member and Geographic Activities Volunteer Leadership Training Program, which provides members with resources and an overview of IEEE, including its culture and mission. The program also offers participants training in management and leadership skills.

Akar says her experiences as an IEEE member have helped shape her career. When she transitioned from working as a marketer to being an entrepreneur, she joined IEEE Entrepreneurship, eventually serving as its vice chair of products. She also was chair of the Region 10 entrepreneurship committee.

“I had engineers I could talk to about emerging technologies and how to make a difference through Innoses,” she says. “I also received a lot of support from the group.”

Akar says she is committed to IEEE’s mission of advancing technology for humanity. She currently chairs the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Board’s best practices and projects committee. She also is chair of the IEEE MOVE global committee. The mobile outreach vehicle program provides communities affected by natural disasters with power and Internet access.

“Through my leadership,” Akar says, “I hope to contribute to the development of innovative solutions that improve the well-being of communities worldwide.”

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