President's Message: June 2023
IEEE PELS: Making an Impact on Society and Its Members
by Brad Lehman
Are you tired of building circuits without considering the impact it has on the world? Don't forget that you have the power to make a difference! IEEE Power Electronics Society's (PELS) core mission is to promote power electronics technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. So, whether you're improving power conversion efficiency, building electric vehicles (EVs) and microgrids, or revolutionizing renewable energy, you're helping to reduce carbon emissions and bring electricity to impoverished communities.
To foster this impact, IEEE PELS strives to mentor its members, provide lifelong learning opportunities for growth, and foster technical innovation and entrepreneurship. And the highlight of this is the IEEE Empower a Billion Lives (EBL) competition - where innovation meets impact. The competition aims to provide clean, reliable energy solutions that can improve people's lives, while also protecting the environment and promoting sustainable practices.
The most recent EBL II competition, held at the IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC) in March 2023, was inspiring, innovative and impactful! Twenty five teams from around the world competed, and the winning teams were awarded a total prize of US$475,000. The grand prize of US$150,000 went to team Nanoé from Madagascar who had already installed 1550 nanogrids to provide affordable electricity to more than 6500 end-users in 350 villages. Thanks to the tireless work of 50 employees and 100 locally recruited and trained entrepreneurs (Figure 1), they were able to make a significant impact in improving access to electricity in under-resourced communities. With the EBL prize, they plan to replicate and scale up the model with the development of dc microgrids interconnecting neighboring nanogrids to improve the electrical services delivered and enable productive use of energy.
FIG 1 Team Nanoé from Madagascar won the EBL II grand prize. Source: Lucas Richard; Nanoé.
Additional prizes were awarded to teams from Kenya, Zambia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Cameroon, Jordan, India and the US, showing the broad global involvement and impact of the EBL program. The teams included operating companies, start-ups and student teams. For more details on all the EBL teams and prizes, or to find out more about EBL or to get involved in the Energy Access community, please visit www.empowerabillionlives.org . The next round of IEEE PELS Empower a Billion Lives is expected to begin in 2025.
However, that's not all. IEEE PELS is offering other competitions too! At the same IEEE APEC conference, 10 undergraduate teams presented their progress on their solution for a single phase solid-state-transformer during the IEEE International Future Energy Challenge (IFEC’23) semifinals. Seven teams were selected for the final round that will be held between 26-28 July in Hanover, Germany. Most of the undergraduates took the chance to visit the APEC conference and exhibition and the student job fair. The topic for IFEC’24 will be covering an audio-amplifier, further information will be published soon on http://energychallenge.weebly.com/
Plus, in the ongoing MagNet challenge, global student teams will develop machine learning software models to more accurately model the behavior of different shaped and different materials in magnetic cores when they are used in power converter systems. For years, many of us have been relying on 100-year old Steinmetz equations to predict power losses in cores, even though we know they are not accurate. With machine learning, and the training data provided by the competition, PELS members can be a part of developing the next generation models and understandings of magnetics. https://www.princeton.edu/~minjie/magnet.html
However, IEEE PELS is not just about competitions. We are also about lifelong learning and mentoring. PELS has been expanding our "Ph.D. Schools" - multi-day workshops throughout the world that try to cross-fertilize research and discussions among Ph.D. students by bringing local industry and academic experts to their region. PELS especially likes to sponsor Ph.D. Schools in regions that do not have great financial resources or the ability to send many participants to international conferences. The advantages of such an event are:
• All interested doctoral students can participate regardless of the acceptance of a paper.
• Ph.D. students can face the criticism of other Ph.D. students and also the industry in an atmosphere of mutual support and friendship.
• There is a lively intensive direct exchange of experiences with valuable tips on how to achieve specific goals, along with recommendations for software and hardware tools and on many other specific aspects of research in power electronics.
• Industry participation is an incentive for Ph.D. students, who can learn firsthand about industry needs and requirements.
• Also, for the supervising professors, the Ph.D school represents a unique opportunity to discuss the research topics of the upcoming period and also the supervision of the Ph.D. students.
Our most recent Ph.D. school was held in Colombia, hosted by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. It was a successful event for the Ph.D. students, and evidenced the strong commitment of many professors in the local organization. We hope to expand this activity to dozens of Ph.D. schools in the future each year. Maybe some readers have interest in helping organization of a local event? Please let PELS know.
The 2023 IEEE APEC had a major success with its inaugural student job fair, which attracted over 250 job seekers, mostly Ph.D. graduates, and provided them with the opportunity to meet with more than 50 potential employers and exhibitors. This is a relatively new initiative for PELS, as IEEE recently modified its policy in February 2022, allowing individual conferences to organize recruiting activities at their discretion. The 2022 IEEE Energy Conversion Congress & Expo (ECCE) was the first to implement this policy and received positive feedback from exhibitors who appreciated the access to specialized job applicants. The student job fair will also be held at the 2023 IEEE ECCE in Nashville, taking place from 30 October to 2 November. It is anticipated that more than 300 student job seekers will attend this conference, which promises to be exceptional with its all-women plenary session featuring CEO/CTO level speakers in the power electronics field:
• Riona Armesmith, CTO, magniX
• Susan Hubbard, Deputy Lab Director for Science and Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
• Elif Balkas, CTO, Wolfspeed
• Annette Clayton, CEO, Schneider Electric, North America
The 2023 ECCE in Nashville is the largest version of our ECCE series of conferences. Each year PELS co-sponsors three ECCE conferences: the largest of the three is this year’s Nashville in North America (www.ieee-ecce.org). But also in late summer 2023, there will be EPE 2023 ECCE Europe in Aalborg, Denmark from 4-8 September (www.epe2023.com). The ICPE 2023 ECCE Asia was 22 – 25 May in Jeju, Korea. Every ECCE event is more than just technical research presentations; it also features a wide range of professional development programs, including tutorials, women in engineering events, young professional and mentoring events, and sometimes outreach events for the public. With such a diverse range of activities, these PELS sponsored conferences are an unmissable opportunity.
If PELS harbored a futuristic vision of outreach, it would entail launching an outreach program directed towards pre-college students. One way PELS could accomplish this is by developing lab demonstrations or experimental kits aimed at stimulating young people's interest in the fields of power electronics and their applications. We have generated several ideas, such as designing wireless or solar cell phone chargers, constructing solar energy kits, powering and programming robots. Concurrently, we are also soliciting any input from our PELS members to give us ideas and suggestions.
In essence, IEEE PELS is committed to creating a positive impact on its members and on the world through the use of its time, expertise, and resources. Consequently, we invite you to consider joining and volunteering with IEEE PELS to help contribute to this important cause. You will have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the field of power electronics. Who knows, you might even win a prize or two along the way!
Contact Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org