Who are you?Summer Tennessee 01

  • PES Scholar 2014, 2015
  • Major: Electrical Engineering, Honors
  • Graduation Year: 2017
  • School: University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • Areas of Academic Emphasis: Power and Energy Systems
Why did you choose to study engineering and the power engineering field?

I first became interested in engineering when my seventh grade math teacher encouraged me to consider a degree in a STEM field. At that point in my life, I had already found that I had a strength and an interest in math and science subjects. I could even remember a time when I was at a children's museum in elementary school where I had connected circuits at an electrical exhibit for hours, simply because it was interesting to me. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I had begun to research the various engineering disciplines to explore possible majors for college. Out of the many choices, electrical stood out to me. I could tell it was a broad field, including microelectronics, control systems, robotics, power electronics, renewable energy, grid technology, along with power generation, transmission, and distribution. It seemed innovative and exciting because I could see electricity being used in everyone's day-to-day lives, ranging from smart phones to three-phase power in a city. I first became interested in power when I began working as a research assistant with CURENT (Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Transmission Networks) research center at the University of Tennessee on a project involving residential power demand and response. CURENT is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and National Science Foundation. During the summer of 2014, I had an internship position with Johnson City Power Board, a utility company that serves about 76,000 customers. My interest in electrical devices, along with my academic and practical experiences have all contributed to my desire to pursue a career in the power and energy field.

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

Power is unique because engineers are required to design solutions on both a local and international level. An example of this is when I was able to travel to Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai, China with CURENT center ambassadors from the University of Tennessee. We were able to discuss China's national grid system with students from Tsinghua University, Southeast University, and North Electric Power University, along with executives from State Grid, the largest state-owned utility company in the world. It was interesting to compare the United States's electric grid to China's and to learn the approaches that both countries are taking to solve similar problems in energy.

This is an exciting time to enter into the power and energy field with the advancement of smart grid technology and the increase of renewable and alternative sources. I am looking forward to being a part a team that helps to design the electric grid of the future.

How has being selected as a PES Scholar impacted you?

After being named a PES Scholar, I was able to receive a co-op position with Eaton Corporation in Business Development of the electrical sector. In this job, I am currently designing electronics for power management solutions that will be manufactured by the company and sold to utilities and other partnering companies around the world. I also feel more empowered to pursue a power and energy career, given that my efforts and interests are being recognized on a national level. During my time at the University of Tennessee, I am now planning on graduating in electrical engineering with a power and energy systems concentration