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Keynote Speakers

darrell_moore.jpgDarrell Moore
Director, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)

Title: “Challenges in the Electric – Gas Energy System”
Abstract: As the energy transition gains momentum, it presents unique hurdles for utility operators and managers, as well as power system service providers. These challenges encompass the integration of variable renewable energy sources, grid stability and reliability concerns, and the need to modernize infrastructure to accommodate the evolving energy landscape. In the coming decade, this means substantial investments in renewable resources can be expected, creating new opportunities and challenges for bulk power system reliability. Some of this new equipment will require modernized testing, standards, and training requirements. Testing technologies will need to evolve to support asset management programs and focus on services, measurement, and automation. And today, the role of artificial intelligence, the increased need for automation, and cyber secure designs are just some of the many additional factors to be considered in this evolution. The big question is, how can the industry step up its game to support higher levels of reliability and compliance as the electric sector transitions to the electrification of everything?

Bio: Darrell Moore joined NERC in September 2012 and has held several positions including, Senior Analyst, Manager of BPSA, Associate Director of BPSA and PCCM, and Director of BPSA and PCCM. He is currently serving as Director of NERC’s Bulk Power System Awareness (BPSA) and Personnel Certifications and Credential Maintenance (PCCM). As the director, Mr. Moore is responsible for collecting and analyzing information on system disturbances and other incidents that could have an impact to the North American bulk power system (BPS). He also supports NERC’s System Operator Certification Program, promoting the reliability of the North American BPS by ensuring that employers have a workforce of system operators that meet minimum qualifications. Mr. Moore has over 37 years of experience in the electrical utility industry in logistics, substation maintenance, scheduling, situation awareness, and system operations. Before joining NERC, Mr. Moore worked for Southern Company, and its subsidiaries, Gulf Power Company and Georgia Power Company, for 27 years, holding several positions in generation, logistics, transmission, and system operations. Mr. Moore started his career in 1985 in generation. In 1988, he transferred to a Transmission Maintenance organization, working in a substation department, and in 1999 transferred to System Operations where he held several positions of increasing responsibility until retiring in 2012. Mr. Moore earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and his Master’s Business Degree (MBA) business management from Saint Leo University and holds a State of Georgia Unrestricted Electrical Contractors License. Darrell is a Senior Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force Reserves, retired 1998.


olga_blum.jpgDr. Olga Spahn
Program Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E)

Title: “Power Semiconductor Technologies for Improved Grid Control, Resilience and Reliability”
Abstract: Technological advances in power electronics have enabled unprecedented growth of renewable energy sources in the electrical power grid. Moreover, decarbonization efforts rely on the electrification of everything from transportation to industrial processes, causing a dramatic increase in demand for electricity. Power electronics have the potential to minimize the increased demand, but new approaches are needed to improve the performance and actuation speeds. ARPA-E has an extensive power electronic portfolio with significant efforts in key technology enablers to improve grid control, resilience, and reliability. Its recent program - Unlocking Lasting Transformative Resiliency Advances by Faster Actuation of power Semiconductor Technologies (ULTRAFAST) seeks to advance the performance limits of silicon, wide bandgap, and ultrawide bandgap semiconductor devices and significantly improve their actuation methods to support a more capable, resilient, and reliable future grid. This talk will focus on ARPA-E perspective on power electronics for the future grid and its resiliency and reliability, as well as other applications. Selected past and current power electronics programs at ARPA-E will be reviewed and some example activities will be discussed.

Bio: Dr. Olga Spahn currently serves as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Her focus at ARPA-E is on grid resiliency, power management and distribution, aviation and instrumentation for harsh environments leveraging optical and semiconductor device technologies. Before joining ARPA-E, Dr. Spahn managed Advanced and Exploratory Systems at Sandia National Laboratories where she oversaw new system development and technology maturation activities for Nuclear Deterrence applications. Prior to that, she managed the Semiconductor Material and Device Sciences department where she focused on advancement of wide- and ultrawide- bandgap semiconductor devices and applications, which earned an R&D 100 Award. Her experience as a principal investigator spans technology development for nuclear non-proliferation, photonics and optoelectronics, optical MEMS, and laser material processing. Dr. Spahn holds her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley. She has published more than 90 publications, holds 3 patents, and is a co-author of several book chapters.


fred_jones.jpgFred Jones
Research Director, Raytheon

Title: “Cyber Safe Communities – a conceptual architecture for securing critical infrastructure and local citizens”
Abstract: RTX has developed a novel framework to address the security of America’s critical infrastructure and local communities. The goal of this framework is the deployment of cybersecurity best practices and technologies across the US at scale but with local governance and control. In this framework, the US is geographically subdivided into “Cyber Districts” which align with current municipal boundaries and roughly approximate the size of zip code regions. Within a Cyber District, residents are provided access to a community owned and operated secure local area network similar to a corporate LAN. The intent is to provide secure networking for high consequence, regulated transactions such as financial and medical records along with other critical infrastructure interactions. Cyber Districts enable pooled risk and community-level data ownership and control, and ultimately cyber-physical resiliency on a national scale. In this talk Fred will share this vision of Cyber Safe Communities, provide a quick history of the United States Postal Inspection Service, and solicit feedback on how to shape the concept moving forward.

Bio: Fred Jones is a Senior Technical Fellow with Raytheon Technologies Research Center. He has 24 years of experience in the Aerospace Defense Industry, with the past 10 years focused on leading Cyber Research & Development programs. He was the Cyber Technology Area Director for Raytheon and a subject matter expert for the Raytheon team supporting the DARPA Cyber Assured Systems Engineering (CASE) program. Fred also has subject matter expertise in hardware reverse engineering techniques, anti-tamper technologies, Cyber & Electro-Magnetic Activities (CEMA), firmware security, and the application of spintronics to security challenges. He is an accomplished embedded systems software engineer, winning multiple technical excellence awards during his decade with the AMRAAM missile product family. Fred is a guest lecturer at the University of Arizona, focusing on open-source intelligence and social engineering techniques. He holds patents and trade secrets in the areas of Anti-Fragile Software Systems with WebAssembly, Zero Trust Endpoint Network Security, Integrating FPGAs into Digital Twins, and Software Assurance with Digital Twins. Fred has a Bachelors in Physics and Masters in Teaching from the University of Virginia, and a Masters in Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.


yc_zhang.jpgDr. Yingchen Zhang
Vice President, Utilidata

Title: "Redefining the Grid from the Edge via Distributed AI"
Abstract: The emergence of distributed energy resources (DERs) and IoT devices at the grid's edge is transforming electricity generation, distribution, and consumption. In this evolving landscape, harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) is essential for optimizing grid operations, enhancing reliability, and facilitating informed decision-making. This keynote will explore the role of GPU modules in reshaping the grid from the edge, revolutionizing how we monitor, control, and optimize grid operations. It will discuss how distributed AI will play a pivotal role in improving grid efficiency, reliability, and resilience, while unlocking new opportunities for renewable integration, demand response, and energy management.

Bio: Dr. Yingchen (YC) Zhang is the Vice President of Product Solutions at Utilidata, a technology company that brings open-source distributed artificial intelligence (AI) to the edge of the electric grid, accelerating decarbonization and improving service delivery. In his role, YC leads the development and growth of the company's product offerings. With over 15 years of experience in power systems operation, planning, markets, and technology development, YC brings a wealth of expertise to his position. He was most recently at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where he managed a research group focused on pioneering the application of artificial intelligence in renewable integration. YC is a graduate of Tianjin University in Tianjin, China, and earned his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech. YC currently serves as the Chair of the Renewable System Integration Coordination Committee of the IEEE Power and Energy Society.


peter_barbosa.jpgDr. Peter Barbosa
Director, Delta Electronics

Title: "Components, Systems, and Grid Interface Challenges Related to Solid-State Transformers in Emerging Applications”
Abstract: Due to the growing levels of power needs in data centers, fast EV charging, renewable energy, and other emerging applications, the demand for advanced medium voltage distribution systems is on the rise. These emerging high-power applications benefit from medium voltage distribution's lower conduction losses. Traditionally, bulky line frequency transformers are used to convert medium voltage AC to a more usable lower voltage AC or DC. Solid-State Transformer (SST) technology is emerging as a new technology, utilizing high-frequency semiconductor operation to decrease the size of transformers significantly. This keynote will address the implementation of solid-state-transformers and challenges related to topology, components, system scalability, modularity, and interface issues with grid.

Bio: Dr. Peter Barbosa serves as the Senior R&D Director at the Milan Jovanovic Power Electronics Laboratory, Delta Electronics, Raleigh. In this role, he dedicates to advancing technology for next-generation power conversion. His expertise encompasses a broad spectrum of power electronics systems, ranging from low- to high-voltage applications. Dr. Barbosa’s work primarily focuses on the development of cutting-edge multilevel power converters, medium-voltage drives, high-efficiency & high-density power conversion technologies for EV charging and server power. He earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2002. After graduation, Dr. Barbosa developed his career in Europe, Asia, and the United States, respectively.