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Brad Petersen
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2052 ECE Building
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Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-6376
bradp@illinois.edu

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2016 ECE Building
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megd@illinois.edu

Twenty-one students to receive Grainger Power Engineering Award

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By Lauren Eichmann, ECE Illinois
April 4, 2008

  • The Grainger Power Engineering Award is open to candidates who have successfully completed a series of four power courses, are citizens or permanent U.S. residents, and have been enrolled in the College of Engineering at Illinois for a minimum of two years.
  • Up to 25 awards may be presented each year.
  • Select awardees are chosen to explain their research material with a presentation at the banquet.

Pictured with ECE Department Head Richard Blahut, Steven Judd received the Grainger Power Engineering Award both last year and this year. Twenty-one ECE students are 2008 recipients of the $6,000 award.
Pictured with ECE Department Head Richard Blahut, Steven Judd received the Grainger Power Engineering Award both last year and this year. Twenty-one ECE students are 2008 recipients of the $6,000 award.

The ECE Department and the Grainger Foundation will honor 21 students with Grainger Power Engineering Awards at a banquet on April 23 at the Grainger Library on campus. The $6,000 awards will be given to electric power engineering students who completed or will complete their bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD degrees between December 2007 and October 2008. 

The awards program, which is in its twelfth year, is open to candidates who have successfully completed a series of four power courses, are citizens or permanent U.S. residents, and have been enrolled in the College of Engineering at Illinois for a minimum of two years. The funds for the award come from an endowment to the department made by the Grainger Foundation. ECE Illinois faculty members George Gross, Thomas J. Overbye, Patrick Lyle Chapman, Philip Krein, and Peter W. Sauer are part of the selection committee, which chooses the recipients in December after reviewing applications.

According to Sauer, up to 25 awards may be presented each year. When the number of qualified applicants exceeds 25, the selection committee considers GPA and evaluates the depth of the candidates’ projects and involvement in electric power events.

Krein said the award recognizes students for their work and prepares them for the future, rather than awarding them for potential work at the beginning of their education. The award serves two primary purposes, he said: to reward students who have followed through in successful completion of the required class program, and to encourage them to think about the importance of power and energy and the potential career opportunities. “The undergrad students in this department are very strong and we get a fairly consistent group to apply from year to year,” he said.

Sauer said around 100 people, including family members and representatives of the Grainger Foundation, typically attend the annual banquet.

“As you can imagine when I won the award, I was ecstatic and I immediately called my parents because I knew that they would be very proud,” said Andy Friedl, an ECE graduate student and one of last year’s awardees. “I would also like to say that I am very thankful to the Grainger Foundation for both the award, and for the funding opportunities that they give our department.”

Friedl said he used the award money to buy a new laptop for his research and invest in a Roth IRA account. Sean Safavinejad, another graduate student who won last year, said he will use the funds to buy a car. “The Grainger Award was actually a big deal for me in a couple of different ways,” he said. “I think indirectly it helped me choose power as my concentration in electrical engineering. Since we had to have so many power technical electives to qualify for the award, I ended up taking a few power courses and I really enjoyed them — and now I'm a power systems graduate student as a result. I think the Grainger Award is a great program.”

Graduate student Steven Judd took advantage of the award opportunity two years in a row. Students are eligible to receive the award for each degree they earn—bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD. As a recipient last year as well as this year, Judd said he appreciates what the Grainger Foundation is doing for the department. “It’s definitely a great bonus,” he said of learning about the award after deciding on a power controls concentration. “The power industry is getting old, and they are starting to need new talent.”

Each year, select undergraduate and graduate student awardees are also chosen to explain their research material with a presentation at the banquet. Judd said he will be giving a speech on his study of hybrid vehicles and the power grid as relating to economics and power system security.

This year’s recipients with their hometowns in parentheses:

Recipient Names (location) Recipient Names (location)
Nicholas Benavides (St. Charles, Mo.) Brett Nee (Champaign, Ill.)
Min Lwin (Macomb, Ill.) Andrew O’Connell (Urbana, Ill.)
Andrew Bollman (Champaign, Ill.)  Anthony Phillipp (Champaign, Ill.)
Patrick Conner (Rockford, Ill.) Andrew Rivera (Downers Grove, Ill.)
Gregory Eakins (St. Charles, Ill.) Nehal Shah (Carol Stream, Ill.)
Jacob Foster (Taylorville, Ill.) Melanie Shelton (Sugar Land, Texas)
Francisco Garcia (Addison, Ill.) Joseph Tate (Urbana, Ill.)
Mark Inderhees (Cincinnati, Ohio)  Kevin Toomey (Roselle, Ill.)
Steven Judd (Aurora, Colo.)     Leilei Xiong (Glendale Heights, Ill.)
Saad Khan (Naperville, Ill.)  
Ryan Kroeze (Wheaton, Ill.)  
Peter Lewis (Woodstock, Ill.)  

Students who meet eligibility requirements must complete an application. The selection process starts each fall after the November 1 application deadline, and recipient decisions are made by December 1. For more information about this and other awards and scholarships offered by the department, visit the Scholarships and Awards page.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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