Life of the association

How is participating in CIGRE activities speeding up my professional development?

As a striving and motivated electrical engineering student who spent most of the time going to lectures and laboratories, I had never heard of CIGRE until my final year of studies. However, it changed my professional development once I learnt of it and began participating.

By Thomas Wang, CIGRE New Zealand Secretary, SC A2 NGN

My final year project at university was about investigating a range of solutions to LV regulation. The project was sponsored by Northpower, a distribution utility, with additional industry collaboration with ETEL Transformers, an Auckland headquartered manufacturer. The motivation for the project was the increasing number of PVs and EVs, and the voltage problems this causes on LV distribution networks. Because the load changes from EVs and PVs is dynamic these issues cannot be solved by an off-load tap changer. The aim of this project was to see if LV regulators would be a good solution to this problem and to compare them to other available solutions.

The NZ.A2 Power Transformer and Reactor panel convenor Dan Martin was also part of the project; providing information on industry practice and mathematical modelling of the thermal behaviour of transformers. He invited the project group to give a presentation on the findings during the CIGRE NZ.A2 panel meeting in 2021, hosted in Wellington, New Zealand. I volunteered to make the presentation slides and three of the group members, including myself, delivered the presentation in front of a group of national transformer experts. That was my first exposure to the industry and CIGRE world, which was attractive. I was captivated by the meaningful discussion from the knowledgeable audience.

Later in the year, I delivered a presentation during the CIGRE NZ 2021 conference.  Formally attending and being listed as one of the speakers at a national industry event is meaningful for someone who just graduated and entered the workforce. After a good round of learning and discussion, I decided it would be exciting to join the CIGRE network. I then became the company representative for my employer, a distribution utility, on the CIGRE New Zealand A2 panel. What really makes CIGRE activities stand out is the level of practical experience shared by counterparts from other organisations as well as the global network. The eCIGRE website provides access to hundreds of Technical Brochures, which means young engineers like me can find learning in an efficient way. With my experience in attending a series of events, including the CIGRE NZ 2022 conference, I started to think of getting more involved in the organising committee as I was motivated and willing to contribute more. Therefore, I decided to run for the CIGRE NZ Secretary position and was voted in during the 2022 CIGRE NZ Annual General Meeting.

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Being a Secretary of the National Committee means a ramp-up of work, but I just love getting on top of organising the monthly board and executive meetings because it means I can be heavily involved on the events organising committee. Also, serving as Secretary means receiving up-to-date information from the CIGRE Central Office, including the information Session about the 2024 Paris Session.

In the year 2023, CIGRE NZ hosted a series of events, including the A2/A3/B1/B2 combined workshop in February, and the annual NZ.A2 panel meeting in June. I was organising and co-hosting the A2 meeting alongside the panel convenor for the first time, as well as delivering a presentation about my projects regarding OLTCs. It was sensational to be able to serve the NZ.A2 community and take away the learnings.

As a young engineer, it is always exciting to participate in young engineers’ panels.  The latest achievement that CIGRE NZ made was to formalise an active NGN and WIE group which would be welcoming engineers under 35 and Women in Energy to participate, respectively. This setup would increase CIGRE NZ‘s presence and provide young engineers in New Zealand opportunities to showcase on the international stage. I am grateful that I can be involved in this meaningful work that sets up the framework for us young engineers in the electricity supply industry. I am also listed as an NGN observer on Working Group A2.68 - Failure survey of lower voltage generator step-up transformers installed in wind farms and photovoltaic parks. That gives me a chance to meet international experts from Germany and the USA, and I met some of them already on international occasions. You often meet people who you come across online when you start travelling for industry work, which is wonderful.

In conclusion I would like to encourage you to join your local CIGRE panels and international Working Groups. There is so much you can learn from experts from all over the world. Joining and participating in CIGRE is a way of uplifting your career. If I can network with all of these as an undergrad student striving to break into the industry, I am sure you can benefit too.

Banner & thumbnail credit: FangXiaNuo on iStock


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