Credentials: PhD 2021
For most people with a steady career and three kids (and twins on the way!), working on a PhD might be a bit of a stretch. But when a former boss and UW-Madison alum suggested Robert McElveen should pursue a graduate degree, the experienced electrical engineer believed he could handle the project. After taking that leap, McElveen expects to complete his doctorate in August 2021.
For McElveen, a South Carolina native, engineering runs in the family. His father had a knack for all things electrical and mechanical and he had two uncles who worked for a large power company. McElveen remembers visiting those power plants in his early teens, deciding on a career in electrical engineering then and there.
He earned bachelor and master’s degrees from Clemson University before beginning what has become a two-decade career at motor manufacturer Reliance Electric/Baldor/ABB,14 of those years as a research and development engineer focused on permanent motor magnet design.
His research at UW-Madison involves improving the synchronization capability of line start permanent magnet motors. He has demonstrated that with a special stator design and motor starter, these highly efficient motors can be used as drop-in replacements for induction motors without negatively impacting efficiency or starting current requirements.
During his studies, he’s been active in IEEE and an officer of the Petroleum & Chemical Industry Conference Chemical Subcommittee. McElveen plans to continue his work at ABB as a senior project engineer in Greenville, South Carolina, where he also enjoys, hunting, fishing and working on home improvement projects.