Backes Iowa State 01

Who are you?

  • PES Scholar - 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Iowa State University
  • Electrical Engineering, Graduated May 2015 with B.Sc. 

My interests are concerned with how to integrate renewable energy, specifically wind energy, into the existing power system, and how to encourage the proliferation of wind energy. This is a challenge of monumental proportions and there are plenty of naysayers, but the social (and hopefully economic) benefits are well worth the research efforts. Other interest areas are electricity markets and economic dispatch, especially when dealing with distributed generation and renewable technologies. This is starting to challenge the fundamental way power is delivered and electricity markets need to be properly structured to encourage these types of energy generation.

Why did you choose to study engineering and the power engineering field?

I chose to study engineering out of a passion for mathematics and how it can so elegantly and concisely describe the fundamental principles of the physical world. I chose power engineering after I took my first energy systems course. I always knew I wanted to work in an area that had some sort of societal impact to it, and once I saw the evolution the current grid was undergoing, I knew that I had found a field that would challenge me technically and engage me. This has further been supplement by my subsequent power engineering courses. The only problem I have is that I want to work on everything that I come across in classes, but alas, I would be a perennial student if I tried that.

What do you love about the power engineering field? What excites you about being involved in the PE field?

There are many reasons I love the power engineering field. First and foremost, working in the power engineering field has real impact. What we do directly affects people and their quality of life. If people are without power for a minute, they are detrimentally affected. Another reason I love power engineering is because of the constant evolution it is undergoing. There are almost never incremental changes, it is also a leap of technology that occurs. The field is always changing, and for the better. The other very exciting thing about the power engineering field is that it offers a unique mix of age distributions. Many power engineers are in the tail end of their careers, and while this does prevent somewhat of a problem, it gives younger power engineers the chance to learn and have real impact in a short time.

How has being selected as a PES Scholar impacted you?

While the financial assistance is outstanding, I would argue that it is not even the most impactful part of being a PES Scholar. The scholarship carries weight around the power engineering industry and employers take a keen interest in it. A plethora of resources also come along with the scholarship. We have access to a PES careers website which allows us a unique opportunity to connect with employers. We are also able to get a mentor to help guide our career choices. Additionally, the program supplies scholars with new research reports and technical webinars, which allows the scholars to develop their knowledge further.

January 2015