Meeting Theme:  “Engineering a Regional Hydrogen Hub”


Andrew Clarke – Duke Energy / CAPER IAB Vice-Chair

Drew Clarke works as a Lead Integrated Planning Coordinator in the Integrated System and Operations Planning (ISOP) organization for Duke Energy, based in Charlotte, NC.  His primary responsibilities include supporting the development of Duke Energy’s integrated planning processes and coordination between the ISOP and transmission organizations.  Prior to joining the ISOP organization, Drew worked as a Technology Development Manager in the Emerging Technology Organization, aligning Duke Energy’s internal R&D priorities and managing external R&D partnerships, and as a System Operations Engineer, providing real time operations support, system operator training simulator support, blackstart restoration studies, and leading Duke Energy’s internal Distributed Energy Resources Operational Working Group.  Drew received his PhD and Bachelor of Science, both in Electrical Engineering, from Clemson in 2014 and 2010, respectively.  Drew is a Professional Engineer in the state of North Carolina and a NERC certified Reliability Coordinator.


Dr. Badrul Chowdhury – UNC Charlotte / CAPER Center Co-Director

Dr. Badrul Chowdhury is currently serving as Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering with a joint appointment in Systems Engineering & Engineering Management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  He received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.  Dr. Chowdhury’s research interests are in power system modeling, analysis, control and economics; system vulnerability and resiliency assessment; integration of renewable and distributed energy resources in the power grid.   He currently serves as the site co-director of CAPER at UNC Charlotte.


Carolyn Keith – UNC Charlotte / Assistant Director of Economic & Workforce Development

Carolyn Keith serves as the Assistant Director of Economic & Workforce Development at the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC). As EPIC’s Project Manager for the Steps4Growth Clean Energy Workforce Development program, her key focus is regional industry engagement and the development of energy-focused educational and training opportunities. The goal of the program is to create 3000 new clean energy jobs statewide by 2026.

A LEED BD+C accredited professional, Ms. Keith co-founded The Ecologic Studio in 2007, a west coast based, woman-owned consultancy specializing in LEED certification, advanced building energy system management, commissioning and net zero design services. Projects in multiple public and private sectors included healthcare, military, high education, retail and corporate. She has served on the boards for NAVFAC SW /Society of American Military Engineers, the USGBC San Diego and on the Port of San Diego Redevelopment Task Force. Leveraging a deep interest in energy efficiency and emerging energy technologies, she has provided consulting, business and workforce development services to some of the largest engineering firms on the west coast. Ms. Keith holds degrees from the University of Colorado and the Design Institute of San Diego.


Danielle Peoples – Duke Energy / Director of Infrastructure Engagement

Danielle Peoples serves as the Director of Infrastructure Engagement at Duke Energy. She is responsible for partnering with internal business units to define and implement best-in-class stakeholder engagement strategies for the company’s highest priority infrastructure projects that advance the company’s net-zero carbon goals. Danielle creates a connectedness between business unit strategies and external affairs and engagement to ensure alignment and coordination to build support at local, state and national levels.

Prior to that, Danielle began her Duke Energy career with the South Carolina state president’s organization followed by experience in Corporate Communications focused on the company’s coal ash response and strategies. Most recently, Danielle stood up and expanded the public engagement team focused on grid improvement projects across the enterprise. She’s provided leadership and established the strategic framework for external engagement for Duke Energy’s grid improvements and readiness for a future green-enabled grid.

Danielle earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She moved enthusiastically to New Bern, North Carolina in May 2021 after visiting the area for a Duke Energy project. She has enjoyed getting involved with the local community, which includes narrating historic trolley tours on occasion.


Jason Wager – AICP CEP, Centralina Regional Council

Jason Wager is Assistant Regional Planning Director at Centralina where he employs land use planning principles and public input/engagement processes and is regularly involved in transportation, energy, and environment-related activities that augment collaboration among transit and freight stakeholders, solid waste programs, fleet managers, water resource experts, and energy initiatives for local governments and the private sector.  Jason also serves as project manager for CONNECT Beyond, a regional mobility initiative, and as Director for the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition, a US DOE Clean Cities affiliate.  Jason is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Certified Environmental Planner (AICP CEP).


Dr. Johan Enslin – Zucker Family Graduate Education Center at Clemson / CAPER Center Co-Director

Dr. Johan H Enslin (M’85; SM’92; F’12) is the Duke Energy Endowed Chaired Professor in Smart Grid at Clemson University in North Charleston SC, USA and Executive Director for the Energy Systems Program at the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center. Enslin has combined a 40-year career with leadership in industry and academia, in the US, Europe and South Africa. He served as a senior executive for private business operations and a professor in electrical engineering. He received the BS, MS and PhD degrees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), South Africa, in 1981, 1983 and 1988 respectively. He is a registered Professional Engineer in South Africa, Fellow of the SAIEE and Fellow of the IEEE.


Jorge Lopez – Siemens Energy / Power Systems Development Manager

Jorge Lopez is part of the Power Systems Development team at Siemens Energy. His role involves the development of decarbonization projects and solutions involving various technologies from Siemens Energy with a focus hydrogen applications. Prior to joining Siemens Energy, Jorge worked over seven years in the industrial gas business at Air Liquide with a heavy focus on hydrogen energy for mobility. Jorge holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from IE Business School.


Dr. Linquan Bai – UNC Charlotte / Professor

Dr. Linquan Bai is an Assistant Professor at UNC Charlotte. He received his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2017. Prior to joining UNC Charlotte, he was with ABB Power Grids on the power market, renewable integration, and economic studies for ISOs and utilities. His research interests include DER optimization and control, distribution and bulk power grid operation and planning, power economics, and electricity markets. He serves as an editor of Journal of Modern Power and Clean Energy and received the 2020 John H. Maxheim Faculty Fellowship at UNC Charlotte.


Maria Simpson – FDI Energy

Maria Simpson, CEO of FDI Energy, Inc. (Formally operating as Futuristic Design International – A QE/Quality Excellence award winning Tier I auto industry supplier) – Has 30+ years’ experience in cross-functional team building, advanced manufacturing, simultaneous product & process engineering, energy production, pollution prevention, infrastructure development and global markets expansion; Co-inventor/developer of breakthrough fuel cell technology coupled with advanced hydrogen production and carbon capture; Pioneered Multidisciplinary Studies (MDST) with several national and international universities.


Dr. Mesut Baran – NC State University / CAPER Center Co-Director

Mesut E. Baran received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1988.  He is currently a Professor with NC State University, Raleigh.  His research interests include distribution and transmission system analysis and control, integration of renewable energy resources, and utility applications of power electronics based devices.  Currently, he is a member of the FREEDM Systems Center at NC State focusing on both research and education aspects of renewable electric energy systems and their integration into the electric power distribution systems.  He also serves as the NC State site Co-Director for CAPER.


Dr. Michael Mazzola – UNC Charlotte / CAPER Center Director

Dr. Mike Mazzola is at the helm of the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) as Director and Duke Energy Distinguished Chair in Power Engineering Systems.

Dr. Mazzola holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Old Dominion University. After three years in government service at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, in 1993 he joined the faculty at Mississippi State University where he became known for his research in the areas of silicon carbide power semiconductor device prototyping and semiconductor materials growth and characterization. For the past 10 years he served at the Mississippi State University Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems as the associate director for advanced vehicle systems, where he lead research in high-voltage engineering, power systems modeling and simulation, the application of silicon carbide semiconductor devices in power electronics, and the control of hybrid electric vehicle power trains. In addition, he served two years as the chief technology officer of SemiSouth Laboratories, a company he co-founded.

A professional engineer, he has published more than 100 papers and has been awarded 14 patents. Dr. Mike Mazzola is an expert in several technical areas including semiconductor devices and their applications in power electronics as well as pulsed power technology.


Steve Whisenant – Duke Energy / CAPER Chair & Facilitator

Steven G. Whisenant is currently serving as Lead Engineer in the Transmission Department of Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC. He is responsible for developing and managing the capital reliability budget and developing new work processes to ensure compliance with NERC Reliability Standards for the bulk transmission system.

As a Project Manager in a previous role, Mr. Whisenant was responsible for the design and implementation of the transition of responsibility for nuclear switchyards from Nuclear Generation to Power Delivery. Before serving as a project manager, Mr. Whisenant served as manager of Duke Power’s System Power Quality Group. Prior to that assignment, he worked in Customer Operations and Transmission Departments. He served as Electrical Project Manager for the Catawba Nuclear Station from 1981-1987. He first joined Duke Power in 1975 as an electrical engineer in the Design Engineering Department.

Mr. Whisenant received a B. S. degree in Electrical Engineering from NC State University, a M. E. degree in Electric Power from Renesselaer Polytechnic Institute and a MBA degree from Queens University. Mr. Whisenant is a registered professional engineer in North and South Carolina.


Dr. Tiefu Zhao – UNC Charlotte / Assistant Professor

Dr. Tiefu Zhao is an Assistant Professor at UNC Charlotte. He received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from NC State University in 2010. He was with Eaton Corporate Research and Technology from 2010 to 2016. He joined UNC Charlotte in 2016 and has been conducting research in renewable energy and power electronics areas, including power electronics for utility applications, ocean wave energy and wide bandgap device power converters.


Dr. Uwe Kühnapfel Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Dr. Uwe Kühnapfel is a senior scientist and research division head for Energy System Integration (ESI) at the Institute for Automation and Applied Informatics (IAI) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. Uwe graduated 1985 (Diploma) in Electrical Engineering and Control Systems at University Stuttgart and received a Dr.-Ing. degree at University Karlsruhe (1991). He worked for 3 years as a KIT-delegate at the European Fusion Energy project JET at Culham Labs in England. Since 1988 he holds a permanent position at KIT within various national research programmes of the Helmholtz-Society in Germany. He is also responsible for a number of 3rd party projects with industry participation (Siemens, ABB, Hitachi Energy, a number of electricity TSOs and DSOs). His personal interests focus on electricity grid modelling and simulation, PHIL, energy system integration and grid control. Uwe is member of IEEE-PSE.


Dr. Valentina Cecchi – UNC Charlotte / Associate Professor

Dr. Valentina Cecchi is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focuses on electric power system modeling and analysis. She leads the Power Delivery Innovation research group.  Originally from Rome, Italy, Valentina attended Drexel University and completed B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering in 2005, 2007, and 2010, respectively.


More Coming Soon!


CAPER Senior Design Team Bio’s

Clemson University Team:

Bryce Carter is an electrical engineering major from Blythewood, SC who will be working in P&C at Duke Energy post-graduation.

Justin Goodman is from Greenwood, SC who will be graduating in May with a degree in electrical engineering and minors in Physics and Mathematical Science.

Kaminer Cromer is an electrical engineering major from Greenwood, SC, who plans to work for First Quality Tissue SE after graduating.

Michael Marinaccio is a computer engineering major from Charlotte, NC who will be pursuing a graduate degree in Intelligent Systems.

Siena Duchnak is an electrical engineering major from Greenville, SC who will also be working in P&C at Duke Energy post-graduation.

Tong Vong is a computer engineering major from Charleston, SC, who plans to work for NIWC Atlantic after graduation.


NC State University Team:

Braxton Houlden is a Senior from Greensboro, North Carolina who will be graduating in May with a degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.

Liam Martin is a Senior from Raleigh, North Carolina who will be graduating in May with a degree in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. He will then be pursuing his Master’s in Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University after graduation.

Yunus Agan is a Senior from Raleigh, North Carolina who will be graduating in May with a degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University. He is a DoD SMART Scholarship recipient and plans to work for NAVAIR at Fleet Readiness Center East after graduation.

Ali Hajirahim is a Senior from Chapel Hill, North Carolina who will be graduating in May with a degree Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. He will then be pursuing his Master’s in Computer Engineering after graduation.


UNC Charlotte Team: