ECE grad students host their sixth annual Power and Energy Conference at Illinois
Graduate students in ECE’s power and energy systems organized their sixth annual Power and Energy Conference at Illinois (PECI), which took place February 20-21 at the I-Hotel Conference Center. PECI featured keynote speakers and presentations from professionals and students throughout industry and academia. Presenters gave talks on topics from renewable energy to microgrids and distributed power generation, and prominent companies including Ameren, John Deere, and Texas Instruments sent officials to speak at the event and sponsored it along with S&C, PowerWorld, ADX Research, and Intel.
In addition to providing power professionals a venue for presenting their research, PECI is designed to help speakers improve their presentation skills. The organizers have created a highly developed commenting system, in which attendees are encouraged to give the presenters extensive constructive feedback. Prizes are awarded both for the best paper and for the best commenters. All of the feedback is sent anonymously to each presenter.
Benefits from PECI also include exchanging ideas and networking. After a PhD student finished his presentation, one of the co-directors discovered she worked on a lot of similar research goals, and in a twenty-minute chat, agreed to exchange data and collaborate on research. And after a PECI attendee mentioned that he had been stuck on a research problem, a fellow attendee happened to have written a paper solving that problem. He sent the student his paper and the student rushed back to the lab that same day to integrate it into his research.
Finally, PECI provides a place to meet power engineering peers from all over the country and the world at one event. Universities worldwide are attempting to solve the same problems in power engineering and each tends to come at them with a particular approach. PECI allows attendees to meet people with different ideas to avoid contracting academic tunnel vision and it gets researchers out of their bubbles.
The ECE Department is helpful in working with the students to set up PECI. Department Head Bill Sanders gives a talk at the opening to welcome people to PECI, Power faculty chair sessions, Assistant Director of Corporate Relations Breanne Ertmer is instrumental in connecting students with great presenters from industry, and the Grainger Center provides administrative support.