Barth honored as IEEE Outstanding Student

5/3/2017 Khushboo Jain, ECE ILLINOIS

Advised by Assistant Professor Pilawa-Podgurski, Barth's current research entails the development of high density inverters for photovoltaic (PV) and motor drive applications.

Written by Khushboo Jain, ECE ILLINOIS

ECE ILLINOIS graduate student Christopher Brandon Barth (BSEE ‘12, MSEE ‘14) has been awarded the IEEE Region 4 Outstanding Student 2016 award. Christopher is currently working toward a PhD in the Power and Energy Systems group.

Nominated by fellow student Thomas Foulkes for the award, Christopher’s achievement adds to his growing trail of recognitions as a promising engineer. Most recently, Christopher earned a prize paper award at the 2016 IEEE Control and Modeling for Power Electronics (COMPEL) conference and a best presentation award at the 2017 IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference. His current research entails the development of high density inverters for photovoltaic (PV) and motor drive applications. This has included interesting work with cryogenic inverters for NASA, work on a high density inverter to be used in future hybrid aircraft and an exciting project to build a high density single-phase inverter as an entry to the Google Little Box competition.

Christopher Brandon Barth
Christopher Brandon Barth
ECE ILLINOS Assistant Professor Robert Pilawa-Podgurski, Christopher’s graduate studies and PhD advisor has remained a constant source of support through his academic career. “He motivates us positively, he makes us want to do the work. Even when things occasionally fall behind schedule - he doesn’t usually make a point of it. He gives us positive motivation. It’s been said that people can be motivated by two things, the desire of gain and the fear of loss. Robert has definitely motivated us through the desire of gain and opportunity, whereas some motivate through the fear of punishment or loss and in reality, that hinders productivity.”

Christopher is also grateful to the campus community, as an undergraduate, masters and PhD student here, he has benefited from the atmosphere of hard work and achievement at ECE ILLINOIS. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here at Illinois, and working alongside others who strive for excellence. Going forward, we carry the mentality of where we went to school to our career and it’s said that we become like our advisors as well. I look forward to carrying the excellence I have picked up from both Illinois and Robert [Pilawa].”

“I was thrilled to learn that Chris was selected for this prestigious IEEE award,” said Professor Pilawa. “Chris has been a great student, teaching assistant, and researcher, as well as mentor of younger students and new graduate students. The success of our students is one of the most rewarding results for our job as faculty members, and it has been a joy to see Chris develop his research and leadership skills since I first began working with him as an undergraduate researcher in the ECE program many years ago.”

Amidst a hectic academic schedule, Christopher believes it is necessary to make time for personal growth. He has helped extensively with Engineering Open House since his senior year. He also volunteers monthly with the Hope Center in Urbana which serves as a food pantry and offers life coaching sessions to community residents looking to improve themselves. For the last two years Christopher has participated in CU at Home’s annual fundraiser for helping the homeless in Champaign-Urbana, “One Winter’s Night”. During his graduate studies, he has also enjoyed being a lab TA for both ECE 431 (Electric Machinery) and ECE 469 (Power Electronics Laboratory).

Read more about Christopher and his recent award in this News-Gazette article.

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This story was published May 3, 2017.