Dominguez-Garcia invited to attend NAE's U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium


Ashish Valentine, ECE ILLINOIS

ECE Assistant Professor Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia has been selected by the National Academy of Engineering to attend the United States Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, along with 82 other engineers who have all been determined by the academy to be future leaders of the engineering field. The event will be Sept. 11-13 in Irvine, California.

"The USFOE symposium is the perfect network for these talented, early-career engineers to develop those personal and professional relationships that will shape their work and ultimately impact our world," National Academy of Engineering President C.D. Mote, Jr. said.

The symposium lasts two and a half days, and the participants will discuss the latest developments in next-generation robotics, frontiers in materials for batteries, the impacts of shale gas and oil on the economy, environment, and energy sustainability, and technologies for the heart.

“The few people I know that have attended this symposium are people that I greatly respect, and judging by the caliber of people that have attended this symposium in the past it’s a huge honor to be invited to this event,” Dominguez-Garcia said.

Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia
Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia

National Academy of Engineering members Pete Sauer and Tom Overbye, both professors at ECE ILLINOIS, nominated Dominguez-Garcia.

“Alejandro is truly a unique guy, and he’s one of the most innovative people I’ve ever met,” Sauer said. “I knew that he would contribute to that symposium and I worded my nomination that way, saying not only is he a smart guy but that he comes up with ideas all the time, and that’s what makes him different from most people. A lot of people won’t come up with an idea unless they get a week to think about it, but he has answers just like that. If one idea doesn’t work, he has another one.”

Dominguez-Garcia and Sauer have worked together on research for the consortium for electric reliability technology solutions and for the Power Systems Engineering Research Center, and have come up with numerous solutions to challenging problems together. In the course of their work, through sessions buried deep in the mire of equations and guesswork, Dominguez-Garcia has made a huge impression on Sauer.

“I worked with him on those projects and it was amazing,” Sauer said. “He can immediately spout off things like the maximum likelihood estimation for linear systems, so when we have problems that need solutions, he immediately comes up with three different solutions right off the bat. He also knows more math than I’ll ever dream of knowing. I honestly believe that one day, Alejandro will become a National Academy of Engineering member; he’s just that good.”

Peter Sauer
Peter Sauer

Overbye, who also nominated Dominguez-Garcia for the symposium, has a similarly high opinion and is sure Dominguez-Garcia will make great use of the symposium.

“Alejandro is a rising star in the electric power systems area,” Overbye said. “He does innovative work in the areas of reliability and control applied to the electric grid and power electronics. Since the purpose of the NAE Frontiers in Engineering is to bring together rising engineering leaders from different disciplines, it is a perfect fit for Alejandro. He should greatly benefit from being able to discuss his work with other young leaders, and to learn from them, as well.”

The purpose of the symposium is to bring future leaders of the field of engineering into contact with each other. Attendees at the symposium are selected via a rigorous process, in which applicants are first nominated by members of the National Academy of Engineering, professors, accomplished industry engineers, past symposium attendees, and other nominators. Applicants must be between the ages of 30 and 45.

Nominated applicants then fill out an application, and are judged based on their research accomplishments, their interest in developments in other fields of engineering, and their ability to integrate advancements in other engineering fields into their own work.

Dominguez-Garcia is a power engineer, and the focus of his research lies in the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid and their impact of this integration, how renewable energy sources can be used more efficiently, and the interactions among different layers of energy infrastructure. He joined ECE ILLINOIS in 2008 after finishing his PhD at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology in electrical engineering and computer science.

Given his background in power engineering, the topics covered at this year’s symposium that are the most relevant to him are frontiers in materials for batteries and shale gas and oil.

“Batteries are going to play a huge role in power systems in the years to come because batteries are important to handle the variability and volatility that comes from renewable resources,” Dominguez-Garcia said. “Shale gas and oil technology is also very relevant to my research. All these are related when you’re talking about infrastructures for gas and oil, and there are interdependencies between the various energy sources.”

He hopes to learn enough to move his research forward, and meet future collaborators, as well.

Though Dominguez-Garcia will be surrounded by accomplished fellow engineers who have all gone through a rigorous selection process, Sauer expressed confidence in Dominguez-Garcia’s performance at the symposium.

“No matter what the topic is, Alejandro will never be short of brilliant things to contribute,” Sauer said.