Renowned Electric Power Engineer Gregory Reed To Direct Swanson School’s Power, Energy Initiative

Issue Date: 
January 20, 2009

The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has named renowned electric power engineer Gregory Reed the first director of its Power and Energy Initiative. Reed is a worldwide authority on advanced electric power generation, transmission and distribution systems, and power electronics technologies. He brings to Pitt nearly a quarter-century of experience in the power industry that will allow him to oversee the initiative’s main goals: to educate the next generation of power and energy engineers and to connect University-based researchers with industry partners and government sponsors in the power and energy fields.

Reed worked with Pitt’s Swanson School and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering over the past several years to help establish the Power and Energy Initiative. The initiative combines educational and research components into a type of problem-solving resource for existing energy-related companies, Reed said. Researchers in the Power and Energy Initiative work with industry partners to identify and address key areas of concern such as energy efficiency, power system operation and management, energy technology development, and increased demand for electricity. An educational component also is being created so that Pitt professors could potentially transfer industry projects into the classroom, teaching students with hands-on research that addresses an existing need.

“We consider the Power and Energy Initiative a mechanism to develop mutually beneficial and longstanding partnerships with industry, from the classroom to large-scale research collaboration,” Reed said. “We strive to understand what a company’s research needs are and provide a bridge to the University’s research expertise. We then hope to use that relationship to develop and update a curriculum that centers on topics that students are interested in, such as alternative and renewable energy systems.”

The Power and Energy Initiative is one of the Swanson School’s components of the University’s Center for Energy, which comprises more than 40 faculty members and their research teams from various disciplines. The center’s five focus areas are energy diversification, renewable energy, clean coal technologies, hydrogen, and environmental solutions.

Many areas of energy research at Pitt look toward future concepts, from harnessing solar energy to developing synthetic and biomass-derived fuels. The Power and Energy Initiative focuses on making such existing electricity sources as fossil fuels and nuclear power cleaner and more efficient, as well as improving the operation of electrical transmission and distribution networks, Reed said. Examples of research currently under way in Pitt’s electrical and computer engineering department include brighter and more energy-efficient LED lighting, computing techniques for lowering power demand in data centers, and wireless sensor and control systems for digitally controlled power grids—or SmartGrids—among other projects.

“The Power and Energy Initiative specializes not in asking ‘can it be done,’ but rather ‘can it be done better,’” Reed said.

Before coming to Pitt, Reed focused his career on creating more efficient and advanced electric power systems. He has authored or coauthored more than 50 papers and technical articles on power system analysis and the application of power systems technologies. He was a major contributor to the drafts and proposals of the 2005 U.S. Energy Policy Act, including written language pertaining to energy-related research, education, and market initiatives. Prior to joining the Swanson School, Reed worked at KEMA Inc.—an international power and energy consulting firm—as senior vice president of the power system planning and management group where he advised North American firms on power systems management, power transmission, and technology applications. He spent most of the previous decade at Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc., most recently as director of business and technology development. Reed began his career in the electric power industry as an engineer at the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.

Reed earned his PhD in electrical engineering at Pitt in 1997 with a concentration in electric power. He earned his master’s degree in electric power engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1986 and his bachelor’s in electric power engineering at Gannon University in 1985. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Power and Energy and Industrial Application Societies and the American Society of Engineering Education.

The Swanson School frequently partners with companies in Western Pennsylvania and around the world in research and education. Locally, the school draws upon the expertise of people working in electric power, mining, nuclear power, and other areas to teach and design courses to ensure that students receive an up-to-date and practical education. In turn, the Swanson School helps provide these companies with the workforce they require.