NSF Site Visit: May 4-5, 2016

POETS hosted their first annual site visit review in May 2016. An NSF review team of external experts came to examine the research, education, and innovation aspects of POETS during an intensive two day program. Then they provided their evaluation to NSF assessing our potential and progress to date. The site visit was held at the University of Illinois and all core partners travelled to Champaign-Urbana to participate. The figure below shows the poster session during the site visit where the NSF site visit team interacted with the POETS students and PI’s. In addition, the POETS Scientific Advisory Board had several members in attendance during the event along with many current IPAB members and those being recruited.  The summary of the site visit review was cautious optimism. The review team clearly saw the societal potential that POETS had to make transformative impact by increasing power density. They strongly encouraged us to capitalize on the potential by moving as quickly as possible to integrate our activities and develop into our envisioned world-leading program. The visitors also lauded POETS’s efforts to impact the educational paradigm across disciplines.

The site visit was also an excellent opportunity for nurturing the cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional relationships among the POETS personnel. The student leadership council (SLC) developed and led team-building exercises such as the one shown below which diagrammed project by project inter-connections.


POETS Student Technical Conference: May 3, 2016

Immediately preceding the POETS site visit there was our first annual Student Technical Conference.  This was a single track technical conference that was organized completely by the POETS SLC.  The student conference committee did a great job organizing the conference and all the student presenters did a good job.

Overall, it was a considerable success and was even more impressive given that they students pulled it together on very short notice. The keynote speaker was Dr. Eckart Hoene from Fraunhofer IZM in Berlin shown in the previous figure. He gave his perspectives on the future of power electronics.

As part of the student activity, Caterpillar arranged for a tour to their testing and R&D facilities. This allowed for the students to get an idea of what mobile electrification looks like at very large scales. Caterpillar also did an excellent job of impressing upon the students the culture of safety that will be critical for POETS success.

POETS-KTH Workshop: June 20-22, 2016

In June 2016, a contingent of faculty from POETS visited our international partner KTH. The visit was to build technical partnerships that could be used to foster collaborative research as well as personnel exchange.  Professors Alan Mantooth, Robert Pilawa and Andrew Alleyne participated, as did Professors Hans Peter Nee and Stefan Ostlund from KTH. Above we see Professor Pilawa (POETS) and Professor Ostlund (KTH) in discussions with two POETS students.

This was a two day workshop. The first day had presentations in the morning, lunch and a tour of *very* impressive electric power facilities at KTH in the afternoon. This was followed by a brainstorming session on potential topics for deep collaboration and a presentation/Q&A with a program manager from the Swedish energy funding association (similar to the U.S. Dept of Energy).  The first day then wrapped up with a great dinner of traditional Swedish food, including meatballs!  The second day involved a tour to Atlas Copco, a large manufacturer of tools for mining and assembly. Several of their assembly tools are electrically driven and operate in the 1 KW range. Below you can see Professor Alan Mantooth trying one of the demonstration units in the company lobby. It was quite an eye opening tour and Atlas Copco is an 11 billion dollar a year company with a strong interest in power density for hand held tools.

One of the most impressive aspects of the tour with Atlas-Copco was the on-site mine they had 20 meters below the headquarters. They had excellent displays set up for their various product lines. This was one of the more unusual tours because one could see the products and also see the result of some of them being used in the walls of the mine.


POETS Outreach with Middle School Students: June 7, 2016

POETS teamed up with graduate student organizations to run teaching/learning modules with several middle school students. This leverages the expertise of multiple graduate students to impact a large number of middle school students in a hands-on and meaningful way. The focus of this middle school program was underrepresented STEM students and young girls.

Above we see a group of middle schoolers, with their teachers, working with Patty Weisensee, Pamela Tannous, and Satya Peddata on a solar car kit. The POETS goal is to educate young minds that power can be transformed from one mode to another and you have to optimize various aspects of your mobile system to reach peak performance. Below we see Patty working with a particular young student to debug their project.

Other outreach activities have taken place throughout the summer 2016 and POETS students and faculty have found it to be very rewarding.