Robert McElveen

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 McElveena 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 companyMcElveen 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.