If we continue to consume energy at the rate we do, our future is in the hands of those students who have a passion to help us find new solutions to seemingly hopeless power problems. 

Thankfully, the future looks bright with the next generation of power engineers. We recently had the chance to meet the brightest of these students at the North American Power Symposium (NAPS).

In partnership with the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), national administrator of  GEARED (Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment) –  a program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative – we had the pleasure of recognizing engineering students’ for their innovative power system solutions in the area of renewable energy at NAPS.

First place winner in the TI-sponsored poster session was Monica Mercado-Oliveras from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) for her student poster on Residential Grid-tied Photovoltaic Energy System Design in Puerto Rico.

We took some time to sit down with this determined world changer to hear what led to her passion for power engineering – see what she said:

 Why did you choose the topic related to power for your poster?

Monica: In high school, I became very interested in mathematics and physics. I was specifically interested in understanding electricity and power because I was curious about how it all worked, which was one of the reasons that motivated me to enter and pursue electrical engineering in college.

In college, I had great professors who taught me the basics of power systems and I became heavily involved in my classes, making all A’s – mainly because I enjoyed learning about power, especially related to its generation, distribution and optimization and the GRID

One summer, I got an internship at a nuclear power plant. The opportunity to see how electricity is generated and transmitted truly changed my life. I really like seeing large amounts of energy. I’m not the kind of person who plays with transistors or dials, but I do enjoy transformers, transmission distribution, and the generation of power itself. 

What do you envision yourself doing after school?

Monica: I would like to pursue a master’s degree in power systems, with a focus on renewable energy.

Do you see other people who are as passionate about power as you?

Monica: My school, UPRM has a very strong power systems program. Many other students are passionate about power and want to make things that better our world; however, not as many are willing to take the risk of getting experience outside the country. That’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Learn about the other winners in the GEARED student poster session

Discover why power engineers are important to our future