PowerAmerica Student Profile: Andrew Galamb

PowerAmerica works with an array of students from its 17 member universities, who assist with research on various institute-funded projects. This month, we are profiling Andrew Galamb, a student at N.C. State University pursuing his PhD in Electrical Engineering with a focus on wide bandgap devices. Andrew works under Dr. Srdjan Lukic, a researcher who with support from PowerAmerica has developed a medium voltage fast charger with SiC technology for electric vehicles. Read our interview with Andrew here.

Hi Andrew! Tell us about your work with wide bandgap to date.

I have worked with Dr. Lukic and others on the EcoPRT (Economical Personal Rapid Transit) project. This is a joint project between the Mechanical and Electrical departments of N.C. State with a goal of creating an autonomous, two person electric vehicle that would transport people between campuses. The Mechanical Department has developed the body and drivetrain, and my team and I have been working on the wireless charging to allow for the vehicle to operate well without human intervention. The wireless charging system will use both silicon carbide and gallium nitride devices in the topology, and we are currently prototyping the printed circuit board.

How did you get interested in wide bandgap technology?

My interest in wide bandgap power electronics started when I learned about the work going on at the FREEDM Systems Center (another institute at N.C. State) to create a new smart grid that could incorporate more renewable energy. I have always been interested in reducing people’s impact on their environment, and the work happening at the FREEDM Center will make a big difference in the efficiency and reliability of the electric grid. I learned about the potential of wide bandgap devices and their improved efficiency and power density, and I was enthralled.

How have you benefitted from being involved with PowerAmerica?

PowerAmerica has supplied me with substantial opportunity for technical and professional improvement. The EcoPRT project has allowed me to explore power electronics and wide bandgap devices on a level that I would never have been able to with my regular undergraduate education. The real world experience gained on this project helped me secure my internship with Danfoss, and got me interested in doing my PhD. I have also had the chance to present a 90 second pitch about my research at the PowerAmerica annual meeting twice now, and that has been valuable public speaking experience.

What would you tell a fellow student interested in a career in wide bandgap?

If you are interested in wide bandgap devices, I would strongly recommend taking a short course on the subject. I had the chance to take one, and it gave me a starting point to enter the world of wide bandgap semiconductors.