Capturing an oscilloscope screenshot once a converter reaches full-power operation is definitely a memorable moment during graduate school, but the IEEE PES/PELS/IAS student branch chapter at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) works diligently to help members make memories (an impact) outside of the lab as well. During the 2018 spring semester, the chapter hosted board game nights, cookouts, a bowling tournament (Fig 1a), and fielded two teams who successfully completed the 2018 Illinois Marathon (Fig. 1b). Chapter members also helped ensure the success of a STEM outreach event for the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, aptly named Girl Power, organized by Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell from the UIUC Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. At the start of the day, all the Girl Scouts received a special hard hat, shown in Fig. 1c, and toured the 85 MW Abbott power plant at UIUC to learn how each step of the power generation process works.  After the tour, participants explored other aspects of power and energy with demonstrations designed by UIUC PELS chapter members. Popular exhibits this year included a shocking lesson about charge from an electrostatic dirod (Fig. 1d), mixing heat transfer with art by using heat pipes to make ice sculptures (Fig. 1e), and gaining an appreciation for the amount of work required to power different types of light bulbs (Fig. 1f).  Funding to build these STEM exhibits was received from the Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics and the Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) NSF Engineering Research Center.  The Girl Power event will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in April 2019. Hosting both social and service events has been key to growing the membership of the local chapter.

Article written by Thomas Foulkes, Andrew Stillwell, Enver Candan, Nathaniel Renner, and Joyce Mast

Figure 1: UIUC PELS members build lasting friendships outside the lab through social activities like (a) bowling and (b) Illini Marathon as well as STEM outreach events such as the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois Girl Power activity day. During Girl Power, attendees (c) toured a working power plant, (d) learned about electrostatic machines with a dirod motor, (e) constructed heat pipes, and (f) discovered how much mechanical work is required to power a light bulb.