“The Future of System Protection in a Distributed Environment”


Aleksander Vukojevic – P.E., Technology Development Manager/ Duke Energy

Aleksandar Vukojevic is a member of Duke Energy’s Emerging Technologies Office. As a technology manager at Duke, Vukojevic is responsible for developing and evaluating requirements, test plans and smart grid technology pilots. Prior to joining Duke he held engineering and management positions at Baltimore Gas & Electric, GE Energy and Georgia Power Company.


Andre Smit – Distribution Feeder Automation Product Manager / Siemens Digital Grid

Andre Smit completed his studies at the Vaal University of Technology in Power Engineering in South Africa in 1988. He joined Siemens in 1989, working in the field of protective relaying for the past 31 years. He specialized in generator protection systems. From 2004 to 2008 Managed the USA Siemens Protective relay business unit. Current position is P&C Product Manager for Protection and Automation including Distribution Feeder Automation systems. He is the principal inventor of a new Distribution Automation System and holds various patents on new methods to protect and automate distribution feeders. He is a member of the IEEE.


Andrew Clarke – Duke Energy

Drew Clarke works as a Lead Integrated Planning Coordinator in the Integrated Systems and Operations Planning (ISOP) organization for Duke Energy, based in Charlotte. 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 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.


Badrul Chowdhury – UNC Charlotte

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.


David Costello, P.E. – Chief Sales and Customer Service Officer, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL)

David Costello graduated from Texas A&M University in 1991 with a B.S. in electrical engineering. He joined Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) as a field application engineer and later served as a technical support director, national sales and customer service director and Sr. Vice President of Sales and Customer Service. He currently serves as Chief Sales and Services Officer and works in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas.


Jim O’Brien, P.E. – Principal Engineer / Duke Energy Corporation

Jim O’Brien is an electrical engineer for Duke Energy with a B.S.Degree obtained from N.C. State University.  His forty year career with Duke Energy has been primarily in System Protections.  He also serves on IEEE working group committees focused on relay standards.


Johan Enslin – Zucker Family Graduate Education Center at Clemson

Dr. Johan Enslin is the Duke Energy Endowed Chaired Professor in Smart Grid at Clemson University in North Charleston SC and Executive Director for the Energy Systems Program. Johan has combined a 38-year career with leadership in industry and academia, in the US, Europe and South Africa. He served as an 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.


Klaehn Burkes – Savannah River National Laboratory

Klaehn Burkes is a Senior Engineer in Instrumentation and Electronic Development group in R&D Engineering at Savannah River National Laboratory. He received the Laboratory Directors Early Career Achievement Award in 2016. He is currently managing several projects focused on improving the resiliency of the electric grid and industrial control system as well as testing and validating large power components to improve resiliency of the electric grid. He received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering and a M.S. degree in power systems from Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA, in 2012 and 2014 respectively. His current research interests include underground residential distribution cables, distribution resiliency, solid state technologies, large power equipment testing, SCADA Cybersecurity, and data acquisition.


Mehmet Cintuglu, Ph.D – ABB

Dr. Mehmet Cintuglu is a Scientist at ABB US Corporate Research Center in Raleigh, NC. He received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Florida International University, Miami, FL.  He provides strategic corporate technology support in the area of microgrids with special research interests including resiliency and cyber-physical security.


Dr. Mesut Baran – NC State

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 – UNCC / EPIC

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.


Dr. Ning. Lu – NC State University

Dr. Lu is a Professor at the ECE Department of North Carolina State University and has over 20 years of experience in electric power engineering. She received bachelor’s degree from Harbin Institute of Technology in 1993 and Ph.D. degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2002. From1993 to1998, she was a power system design engineer with Shenyang Electric Power Bureau.  From 2003 to 2012, Dr. Ning Lu was a senior research engineer with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  Dr Lu’s research interests include modeling and analysis of power system load behaviors, energy management systems development, renewable integration, microgrid modeling and control, and AMI data analysis. Dr. Lu is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications, including journal articles, conference proceedings, and technical reports.


Ramtin Hadidi – Clemson University

Ramtin Hadidi received the Ph.D. degree from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada, in 2012, in electrical engineering. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA. Prior to that, He was a research scientist at the Duke Energy eGRID Center at CURI in Charleston. Dr. Hadidi’s research focuses on power and energy system modeling and simulation; distribution systems planning and automation; power system stability studies; integration, testing and standardization of distributed renewable generation sources and energy storage technologies.


Ritwik Chowdhury – SEL

Ritwik received his Bachelor and Master of Engineering degrees from Canada. He joined Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, INC. (SEL) in 2012 where he is presently a lead power engineer. Ritwik has authored a dozen technical papers and holds 2 patents in protection and control. He is involved in authoring IEEE standards and guides.


Richard Kirby – SEL

Richard D. Kirby, PE, is a Senior Product Sales Manager at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (SEL) in Houston, Texas. His current focus is Time-Domain protection technology. He has 27 years of diverse electric power engineering experience. He is an IEEE Power & Energy Society and Industrial Applications Society senior member.


Ryan Kennedy – Atom Power

Ryan is co-founder and CEO of Atom Power, Inc.  He has been in the electrical design, project leadership, and engineering industries for over 24 years.  A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Ryan began his career as an electrician and worked with hardhat and tools on large commercial projects for 5 years before starting his study of electrical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  Once Ryan received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Magna Cum Laude from UNCC in 2004, he continued full-time in his career as a Project Manager for a large electrical contracting and engineering firm.  As Project Manager, Ryan negotiated and built some of the most high profile projects in the southeast for several large corporations, having managed and built over $90-million and 4-million square-feet in electrical construction projects.  He is a licensed Professional Engineer in five US states, is an active member in IEEE and board member of UNCC Electrical and Computer Engineering.


Sakis Meliopoulos, Ph.D – Georgia Tech.

Sakis (A. P.) Meliopoulos (BSEME, 1972, MSEE 1974, PhD 1976) is the Georgia Power Distinguished Professor with the ECE at Georgia Tech. He is actively involved in education and research for improved safety and electromagnetic compatibility of electric power installations, protection and control of power systems and the application of new technology in these areas. Dr. Meliopoulos has pioneered several new analysis and design techniques for bulk power reliability analysis, safety, protection and electromagnetic compatibility of electric power systems.  Dr. Meliopoulos is a Fellow of the IEEE.  He holds 3 patents, he has published three books, a chapter in the Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers and over 400 technical papers.  He has received a number of awards, including the Sigma Xi Young Faculty award (1981), the outstanding Continuing Education Award, Georgia Institute of Technology (twice 2002 and 2014), the 2017 D. Scott Wills, ECE Distinguished Mentor Award, several of his papers have received the best paper award (IEEE-PES-SC-1984, IEEE-PES-EC-1987, IEEE-CSS-HICSS 2002, PMAPS 2017), he received the 2005 IEEE Richard Kaufman Award and the 2010 George Montefiore international award.


Steve Whisenant – Duke Energy / CSC Chair

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.


Sukumar Brahma, Ph.D – Clemson University

Dr. Sukumar Brahma is Dominion Energy Distinguished Professor in Power Engineering and Director of Clemson University Electric Power Research Association at Clemson University. Before Clemson, he was William Kersting Endowed Chair Professor at New Mexico State University. He is an editor for IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, and served as Guest Editor-in-Chief for the Special Issue on Frontiers of Power System Protection.


Taylor Raffield, PE – Duke Energy

Taylor Raffield received his BSEE from Clemson University in 2010 and MEE in 2014 from the University of Idaho. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of North Carolina. Presently a Lead Engineer in the Transmission Systems Standards.


Tiefu Zhao – UNC Charlotte

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.


Valentina Cecchi, Ph.D – Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director / UNC Charlotte

Valentina Cecchi 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. She is currently an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and member of the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) at UNC Charlotte. Valentina’s main research interests currently include developing electric power line models for modern power systems and smart grids, investigating the impacts of distributed energy resources on the grid, and studying distribution system planning and operation techniques.