The Power Engineering Awards Program exists to motivate undergraduate and graduate students to pursue academic degrees in the field of power engineering. Each year, new students are chosen to receive the award. The awards hope to bring College of Engineering students together to become highly involved with power engineering faculty, to develop students who are highly qualified to enter the field of engineering, and to encourage students who already have or are likely to make significant research or contributions to the field of power engineering.
The Grainger Power Engineering Award
2023 Undergraduate Winners
Alejandro was called to engineering in high school, excelling in math and physics courses. He says, “Electrical engineering was always a wonder to me because the way I see it, it is the only engineering you cannot directly observe. In order to ‘see’ power we need ... tools and concepts”. Alejandro’s passion for power engineering has led him to pursue significant accomplishments for an undergraduate student. He is the co-author of many articles and book chapters and is the lead author in a research publication featured in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. He has completed two internships at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power where he has led and assisted with projects aimed at helping LA reach their goals of having 100% renewable energy. Alejandro will be graduating in May of 2023 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a certificate in Engineering for Energy Sustainability. After graduating he will complete one more internship with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for a grand total of three internships with the company before attending grad school at California State University – Los Angeles. There he will pursue his master’s degree for Electrical Engineering.
Silvia was introduced to engineering by her grandparents, who are both engineers and would do engineering projects with her. She was introduced to power engineering after taking Intro to Circuits, one of her favorite classes. She plans to graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering in May of 2023.
Silvia is extremely active outside of academics and enjoys watching or reading anything related to Harry Potter or Star Wars, dancing, doing henna, and painting. She is the Team Lead and Choreographer of the African Dance Team and is a Student Helper for the Muslim Student Association. She is an undergraduate TA for several ECE classes and completed a summer internship at Collins Aerospace in their Testing and Validation department.
After graduation in May, she will be serving in the Peace Corps in Mongolia for two years before attending grad school for electric machines.
Justin grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and showed an affinity for math and science at a young age. He was a curious kid and was fascinated with electricity and how so many people take it for granted. His freshman year, he knew he wanted to be involved in large scale power projects which led him to WiscWind. WiscWind is a competition team on the UW-Madison campus that participates in the Collegiate Wind Competition, sponsored by the US Department of Energy. He was a member of the team for four years with an overall goal of fostering student interest in wind energy careers. Justin completed multiple internships before graduating in December of 2023 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a certificate in Engineering for Energy Sustainability. He returned to his hometown after graduation to take a full-time position at Electrical Consultants Inc as a Substation Design Engineer. He credits his work in power engineering courses as well as his experiences in WiscWind for helping him secure all of his internships as well as his full-time positions.
Kaden attended a lecture on the electric grid on Accepted Student’s Day at UW-Madison before his freshman year, leading him to pursue power engineering. As the world moves towards more renewable energy options, he enjoys being a part of the field that helps protect the environment.
Kaden is currently the Distribution Engineering Intern for Xcel Energy, where he has worked since January 2022. In this position he has helped improve the reliability of the distribution grid of Western Wisconsin and has run the rooftop solar process in Xcel Energy’s Wisconsin territory. In his free time Kaden enjoys fishing, running, hanging out with friends, and playing intermural sports, especially hockey and golf. Kaden plans to graduate in May of 2023 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He has accepted a post-graduation position with Mead and Hunt as an entry Power Engineer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he will help design power systems for large facilities and factories.
Kyle has always recognized energy as “the most important resource we have on our planet”. He has always wanted to be in a career that would put him in a position to change lives through technology. He says, “The renewable energy field is the perfect place for me to combine that passion with my talents as an engineer”. During his four years in university, he has been involved with the Guatemala Project of Engineers Without Borders. He is currently the leader of the project design team which is designing a solar project to be used in a water supply system for a rural community. He completed two internships, one with Circuit Check Innovative Test
Solutions and the other with Westwood Professional Services.
Kyle enjoys spending time in Madison and enjoys traveling, learning about new cultures, exercising, attending Badger sporting events, and spending time outside whenever possible. He plans to graduate in May of 2023 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation he will be starting a job with Primoris Renewable Energy as a Field Engineer and hopes to travel to new countries to continue learning about new cultures.
Michael enjoyed playing with toy circuit kits from a young age, leading him to have a passion for critical thinking and problem solving. He became interested in power engineering after joining the student competition team WiscWind. His team competed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition. Michael was President and Overall Team Lead of WiscWind his senior year and was also the Vice President of the Wisconsin Engineering Student Council.
Michael has worked at US Cellular for the past two years as an RF Engineering intern. After his graduation in May 2023 he will begin a full time position at US Cellular as a RF Rotation Engineer. He hopes to gain more knowledge of RF components and, in turn, drive innovation within the renewable energy space. Michael will graduate with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Michael started taking engineering classes in high school. When he came to college, the class that drew him to power engineering was Electromechanical Energy Conversion. He held an electrical software role last summer at KBR, a space and defense industry.
Michael is on the UW Men’s soccer team, a commitment that takes up about 30 hours per week. In his limited free time, he participates in Badgers Give Back, a student-athlete led community service program that works with neighboring schools and children’s hospitals to brings kids joy. He also enjoys playing piano, working out, and when available, snowboarding.
Michael will be graduating in May 2023 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Post-graduation, Michael will be working in Cincinnati for GE Aerospace.
Nicolas is hugely interested in alpine skiing and has been a part of the Alpine Ski Team and Hoofers Ski and Snowboard club since his freshmen year. Last year, as vice president of the Hoofers Ski and Snowboard club, he organized the annual Rail Jam freestyle skiing competition, which brought the event back to the Memorial Union terrace. Nicolas generally enjoys outdoor activities, including tennis, golf, soccer, and hiking. He also enjoys reading as well as German culture and language.
Nicolas is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering with a certificate in German. He found engineering when his track coach encouraged him to take computer science and engineering electives at his high school. He found he was immediately interested in the microprocessor and coding projects, “which helped [him] make [his] decision in choosing Electrical Engineering. He says, “I fondly remember taking Electrical Power Systems with Prof. Roald and having a final project of redesigning Wisconsin’s power grid by replacing fossil fuel generators with renewable energy sources”. This project drew him to power engineering and sparked his interest in renewable energy. Nicolas plans to graduate in May 2023 and hopes to work in either power electronics or the medical device field.
Ryan was drawn to power engineering because of how many people rely on energy in their day to day lives. He found group problem solving and the somewhat abstract concepts of power engineering to be extremely rewarding. Ryan is a professional mentor for Engineers Without Borders at UW-Madison as well as a Project Manager for the Puerto Rico chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Ryan spends most of his time outside skiing, kayaking, and backpacking when he isn’t working. He completed three internships throughout his time in school. In his position at Collins Aerospace, he completed design and implementation of power connectors that allowed removal of testing equipment. He completed two internships with Affiliated Engineers which gave him “endless opportunities to touch advanced building construction projects in a variety of applications”. Ryan graduated in December of 2022 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
He is now working at Affiliated Engineers as a Electrical Engineer in Seattle. His team focuses on power design solutions for advanced laboratory and healthcare construction projects.
Kyle didn’t realize that he was interested in engineering until he got to college and had a conversation with his advisor. He was drawn to power engineering as he feels that the power industry will have a large factor in combatting climate change and improving clean energy resources. Kyle works in the WEMPEC lab as a research assistant where he has worked on a variety of projects. Working for the lab has been one of his favorite experiences in college. He says, “I’ve been exposed to so much real-world research and engineering, as it has really helped me understand power engineering on a much better level outside the classroom.”
Kyle will graduate in May of 2023 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a certificate in Energy Sustainability. He has accepted a position as a design engineer at Electric Power Systems in Chippewa Falls. He will be designing electrical distribution networks and substations.
Andrew started his engineering journey in Spring, Texas. As a child, Andrew was always asking “Why?”. “Just ask my mom”, he says. His natural curiosity about the world “compliments the critical thinking skills and questioning attitude engineers must exercise when problem solving”. His interest was narrowed to power engineering because he knows his work is directly contributing to making people’s lives easier. He says, “Power engineers are direct contributors to economic development and improving people’s quality of life.”
Andrew graduated from UW-Madison in May of 2021 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. During his time at UW-Madison, he was a member of IEEEUW-Madison Student Chapter, serving as communications officer for one year and as president his senior year. He is continuing his Engineering journey in Pheonix, Arizona where he was recruited to work full-time at the Palo Verde Generating Station / Arizona Public Service.
Outside of academics and work, Andrew enjoys traveling, music, fitness, and has a dog.
2023 Graduate Winners
It wasn’t always clear to David that he wanted to go into engineering. In the end, it was his sheer curiosity about how the world works that led him to pursue engineering. David has his B.S. in Electrical Engineering as well as his B.A. in German from the University of Pittsburgh. His master’s degree is from Dresden University of Applied Sciences in Electrical Engineering. He is now pursuing his PhD in Electrical Engineering at UW-Madison. When asked what his anticipated graduation date was he says, “After hearing what my prelim committee expects of me, not until I have gray hair.” David has interned at the Public Utility Commission of Wisconsin, 50Hz Transmission, Westinghouse Electric, and Bechtel Plant Machinery. His current research involves developing a device to convert ocean waves into electricity.
David is very active outside of academics. He is an avid cello player, going out of his way to play with his school or university orchestra every semester that he has been a student since 3rd grade. He enjoys biking, brewing beer, and sharing it in the company of others. When asked about post-graduation plans, he says, “I want to work on things I care about and be in an environment where I will be pushed to learn new things and grow. And preferably be close to Madison since my fiancée is going to be a student forever.”
Nathan is a current PhD candidate at UW-Madison, pursuing a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is expected to graduate in May of 2024. Nathan also received his undergraduate and master’s degree from UW-Madison, getting his BS in Computer Science in 2019 and his MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2021.
Growing up in Champaign, Illinois, he did lots of 4-H projects and had support from his father. He found power engineering in the second half of his undergraduate program and was drawn to the field because of how multi-disciplinary it is. “Not one person can possibly understand [or] be an expert in every aspect of a power system”, he remarks. He enjoys mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students in learning motor control and drive concepts.
His hobbies include engineering and computer side projects, hobby circuit board design projects, working out, and spending time with his girlfriend and dog.
Nathan’s research focuses on controlling motors that levitate themselves, therefore not needing bearings. After graduation, he hopes to commercialize industrial-scale bearingless motors.
Noah grew up in Greenville, Wisconsin playing with Legos before graduating to robots and then engineering. He was drawn to power engineering because of the massive scale of power systems. “The system is too large and complex for any individual to fully understand, but it still runs safely every day”, he says.
Noah’s hobbies include ultimate frisbee, disc golf, rock climbing, and biking. He interned at Los Alamos National Library working on power grid restoration.
He earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UW-Madison in 2019 and is continuing to pursue his PhD in Electrical Engineering with an expected graduation date of May 2024. His research is currently focused on disaster mitigation planning on power grids. He develops “methods to optimize grid operations to restore power after major disasters, like hurricanes or wildfires”.
The Novotny Power Engineering Award
Leyue loves that she is able to "work on technologies that improve people’s lives and have a positive impact on the environment" through her work in power engineering. She is a part of the outreach activities for the National Science Foundation and has presented to elementary school students and their families. She also participated in a Summer Science Camp Workshop, working with high school students across Wisconsin to explain how motors work. Leyue received her undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and Automation from Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China and her masters in Electrical Engineering from UW-Madison. Her research is currently focused on electric machine design and thermal analysis.
After her graduation in August 2023 she hopes to become an electric machine design engineer. She will graduate with a PhD in Electric and Computer Engineering. She enjoys hiking, jogging, and doing yoga and is a part of the Student Organization Women in WEMPEC/WISPO, a group dedicated to supporting women in the engineering field.
Rafael Castillo Sierra
Rafael is currently a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering with emphasis in power converter control and power system level control. He has completed three degrees already. He received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering in 2012, his first master's degree in Electrical Engineering in 2015 from Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia and his second master's degree in Electrical Engineering in 2021 from UW-Madison. After completing his degree in August of 2024, he will return to Universidad del Notre where he is a faculty member to continue his teaching and research work. He aims “to open and rigorously promote the power electronics research area at [his] university and to be able to train highly qualified professionals”. At UW-Madison he has been a teaching assistant since 2020, teaching four different courses. He is a professor at Universidad del Notre and has taught courses on electrical machines and power system analysis. His research involves projects related to microgrids and the insertion of renewable energies in distribution systems.
Outside of academics, Rafael is passionate about painting and riding his bike and has recently acquired a taste for photography. He also says, “Nor can I deny that I like a marathon of a good streaming series or going to the theater to see movies”.
Feida was very curious about vehicles and robots as a child. His father was an electrical engineer and was able to provide Feida with a basic understanding of the mechanics of electrical devices. As he explored more about power engineering, he discovered that power engineering influences most people’s everyday lives. He was impressed by its wide application and devoted himself to power engineering. Feida received his undergraduate and master's degrees in Electrical Engineering from Beijing University in 2015 and 2018 respectively. He chose to pursue his PhD as UW-Madison for WEMPEC’s esteemed reputation. He was drawn to the rigorous academic research atmosphere, comprehensive and professional courses, and famous professors. He says, “I believe that there are no other countries or universities paying more attention to technology, education, and ... talent, at the same time providing students the best opportunities to make a difference”.
Feida is currently researching the integrated motor drive system, which combines a high-performance traction motor and a high-efficiency traction inverter into a combined housing to reduce the total volume and improve the system performance. He will graduate in May 2024 and plans to become a power electronic engineer.
When Wenda was a young boy he tried to take apart an old television and was unable to put it back together. This experience is what drew him to engineering. Both of his parents were engineers, giving him background knowledge of what the career entails. His junior year of college he took a Power and Energy course that he found really interesting, pushing his to pursue power engineering. Wenda received both his undergraduate and masters degree from The Ohio State University in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has interned for SS Power Technology, a company that builds battery chargers from solar panels. His research involves designing high performance electrical machines for traction applications.
In his free time, Wenda enjoys cooking, skiing, and traveling. He will graduate in 2024 with his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering. After graduation, he hopes to pursue further research opportunities.
Ahmed loved cars as a kid. He says, “Cars are made by engineers, so I got interested”. He received his undergraduate degree from Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan. He has led two student teams for international competitions, the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition in 2016 and the Shell Eco Marathon in 2017. He now serves as the graduate student advisor on the ECE MS committee for the College of Engineering.
Ahmed’s research is currently focused on making electric motors smaller. After his graduation in August of 2023 he will be joining General Motors as an electric motor design engineer. He says, “I hope to make a difference in the electric mobility world through my work, and I hope we can see a cleaner, greener future.”
Sangwhee Lee is from Seoul, Korea. He has always enjoyed solving abstract mathematical problems and that eventually led him to engineering. He says, “I found that engineering has a lot of mathematical problems to solve with direct physical implications”. Sangwhee was drawn to power engineering after learning about three-phase motors. For him “connecting the dot[s] between seemingly abstract trigonometric equations with complex numbers to the actual physical interpretation was mind-blowing”.
He earned his B.S in 2018 from Korea University and earned his M.S. in 2020 from UW-Madison. He is now pursuing his PhD in electrical engineering and is expecting to graduate in 2024. His research “[utilizes] recently developed device technology’s capability to... shrink the volume and increase the efficiency of the traction motor drive system used in electronic vehicles”. After graduating, he hopes to continue contributing to sustainability in engineering to “[make] this world more sustainable for the next generation with innovative ideas and new technologies”.
Sangwhee served as a chair for the Korean Student Scholar Association for three years, connecting undergraduate and graduate students to companies in Korea. Outside of academics, he enjoys swimming, singing, and going to musical performances.
Maitreyee is currently a PhD candidate for Electrical and Computer Engineering with a concentration in Energy Analysis and Policy. She chose UW-Madison specifically to join WEMPEC and WISPO to work in community-engaged energy projects. She received her undergraduate degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the National Institute of Technology Karnataka in 2018 and her masters degree in Electrical Engineering from UW-Madison in 2021.
Maitreyee has completed three internships in engineering, working with companies to study microgrids, solar-powered cold storage for rural communities, solar home energy systems, as well as prototyping aggregate control algorithms for coordinating the energy consumption of distributed energy resources. She is also heavily involved with many extracurricular groups on campus, including being on the advisory boards for Women in ECE and the Morgridge Center for Public Service. She is also a member of the Undergraduate Research Symposium committee.
Outside of academics, Maitreyee enjoys playing badminton and listening to music. She also enjoys exploring the many outdoor activities that Madison has to offer such as kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking, as well as downhill and cross-country skiing.
Pengkun Tian grew up in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, P. R. China and realized that he was interested in Physics in high school. After taking a few engineering courses, he realized that he was more interested in circuits than mechanics and started to focus on power engineering. He has received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering and Automation from China University of Mining and Technology in 2015 and his graduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Michigan in 2018. He is currently a PhD candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering and is expected to graduate in August of 2024.
Pengkun’s research is currently focused on the performance of power converters with symmetrical circuit concepts as well as fault-tolerant modular motor drives. He has interned with John Deere, proposing tech roadmaps for battery management system development. He hopes to work in a research and development position after graduation.
Zhouzhou is pursuing her PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering here at UW-Madison. She received her bachelor’s degree from Dalian University of Technology in China and her master’s degree from RWTH Aachen University in Germany. She became interested in engineering as a child, when she participated in an extracurricular group that taught her how to design and make simple printed circuit boards. She is now focusing her research on developing the distributed deadbeat direct torque and flux control scheme for the modular motor drives to enhance their fault tolerance abilities. She plans to graduate in January 2024.
She has completed an internship at Robert Bosch GmbH in Germany where she developed electrical vehicle models and an internship with John Deere, where she developed the control scheme for eliminating DC link harmonics. In her free time she enjoys drawing, traveling, and volunteering with dog rescue activities. She provides dog food, distributes relevant information, and serves as a volunteer feeding rescue animals.