Students organize first Power and Energy Conference at Illinois

ECE News

Susan Kantor, ECE ILLINOIS

Story Highlights

  • The first Power and Energy Conference at Illinois was planned and executed by ECE students.
  • Universities from across the Midwest, as well as industry leaders, participated in the conference.
  • The conference helped students interact with each other, as well as industry.

The first Power and Energy Conference at Illinois was hosted successfully February 12 and 13. The conference was organized by the IEEE Power & Energy Society and Power Electronics Society Joint Student Chapter at the University.

ECE graduate student Ali Bazzi was the conference director.
ECE graduate student Ali Bazzi was the conference director.

“We started the idea with the basic technical papers, and formed a group of graduate students here as a committee, with two faculty advisers,” said conference director and ECE graduate student Ali Bazzi. “Then we started working on the logistics--contacting universities, some corporate support--and we got positive feedback from lots of people.”

Bazzi, who is also chair of the IEEE Power & Energy Society and the Power and Electronics Joint Student Chapter, came up with the idea for the conference and discussed it with the chapter board and with ECE Professors Philip T Krein and Peter W Sauer in September. Bazzi noted that an event that could take over a year to plan was put together by the conference organizing committee in just a few months. “The committee members put lots of time and effort into that,” said Bazzi. 

More than 90 participants from 10 universities participated in the conference. Industry support was received from companies such as SolarBridge Technologies, ComEd Exelon, and John Deere.

“This is not only a student conference, but we have professors, we have industry experts that are coming, and we have lots of students at the graduate and undergraduate level participating,” said ECE graduate student Anupama Kowli, who was in charge of outreach and publicity for the conference. “I think this is unique in the way it’s being organized, and having an IEEE conference is a very important process for the students to get used to.”

The keynote speaker at PECI was Wanda Reder, past president for IEEE Power and Energy Society.
The keynote speaker at PECI was Wanda Reder, past president for IEEE Power and Energy Society.

Kowli added that they wanted to get students to interact with industry--and with other students. 

“There are some really interesting things happening in the power area right now,” Kowli said. “Students are the ones who do the nuts and bolts of research. This was to provide a platform for the students and industry to interact together.”

The theme of the conference was future energy technologies, and the sessions corresponded with that theme. There were sessions on photovoltaic systems and solar energy, vehicle technologies, power systems, renewable energy interfacing, machines and drives, and power electronics.

“These are all very hot topics in the power and energy area,” Bazzi said.

Most of the graduate students, from senior PhD students to incoming masters students, had never planned a conference.

"It was not easy, but it gave us lots of experience,” Bazzi said. “We’ve covered several details this year so that next time, hopefully, anyone who would like to organize the conference again would find lots of these details ready and figured out, especially with issues related to IEEE.”

More information about the conference is available at The proceedings of the conference will be available on IEEE publications.

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