Earl Energy Finds Talent at FREEDM Center and NC State
In addition to recently hiring two former FREEDM Center students, Anirud Mulukutla and Vinay Baliga, industry member Earl Energy had three NC State engineering students work as interns this past summer.
February 3, 2015 By NC State ECE
Developing the next generation of engineers is a critical component of the FREEDM Systems Center and NC State University. Students are encouraged to expand their expertise and gain real-world skills by developing relationships with the FREEDM Center’s industry member companies. In addition to recently hiring two former FREEDM Center students, Anirud Mulukutla and Vinay Baliga, industry member Earl Energy had three NC State engineering students work as interns this past summer.
Suraaj Doshi (May 2015), Michael Cothran (May 2015), and Ryan Shumate (2015) were all hired by Earl Energy to work on two of their newest projects. The first project is a combined effort by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army to build the prototype for their future line of portable, trailered hybrid generators. The second project is a U.S. Army effort to build a next generation Silicon Carbide power converter. These power converters will revolutionize the way power is delivered on the battlefield and will be 80% lighter, 70% less by volume, and 350% more powerful than current models.
While working at Earl Energy, students were not simply getting coffee and making copies. Suraaj helped design an interface board that provides communication between the power electronics and the system controller for Earl Energy’s Silicon Carbide power converter. Ryan also provided support for the Silicon Carbide project by writing embedded systems software and redesigning the interface for Minerva, a custom based analysis and modeling tool used by Earl Energy to optimize generator performance for customer needs. Michael helped design the structure for Earl Energy’s trailered hybrid generators, soon to be used by the Marine Corps, and performed testing and validation for their cooling system.
The partnership between the FREEDM Center and Earl Energy provided students the opportunity to translate what they learn at NC State into a business setting. When asked about his favorite part of the internship, Michael Cothran said, “Working first hand on projects that are going to become products allows you to put your hands together and get dirty.” Suraaj echoed those thoughts, “It was rewarding to develop a product that no one else in the world had managed to put together. The team at Earl Energy spent a lot of time teaching, as opposed to telling us what to do.”
Ryan Shumate thought the most unique part of the internship was learning a different train of thought between the business world and the academic world. He stated, “In the business world you have to be responsive to customer needs…figure out what they want and what problem they want solved and develop a solution based on their needs.”
The students were not the only ones who benefited from the opportunity. According to Pasi Taimela, Vice President of Engineering at Earl Energy, “The engineering students at NC State are some of the brightest in the world. We were able to put them to work on day one helping our organization build complex products that are revolutionizing power on today’s battlefield. Partnering with the FREEDM Systems Center is a win for everyone. Current and graduating students get a chance to enhance their practical skills by working on transformative technology at our Durham engineering facility, while we get the benefit of having one of the top engineering universities in the world right in our backyard,” said Taimela.
Earl Energy is a veteran owned and operated company that specializes in hybrid power systems for military and commercial customers. With its R&D headquarters in the Research Triangle Park area, Earl Energy is quickly expanding, adding another 10,000 square feet of office space this month as they continue to hire a range of electrical, mechanical, software engineers. Upon moving to North Carolina in 2012, Earl Energy established a partnership with the FREEDM Center because of the strong synergy between their efforts and the direction and resources of the FREEDM Center. According to Earl Energy’s Pasi Taimela, “Our systems hybridize generators drastically reducing fuel consumption, maintenance, and emissions. In order to do that, we needed the best and brightest engineering minds in the world and we found that here with NC State and the FREEDM Center.”
Credit: Adapted from the FREEDM Systems Center Article “News & Events :: Earl Energy Finds Talent at FREEDM Center and NC State”