Plenary Speakers

We are pleased to announce our plenary speakers this year, see below for full presenter bios and keynote abstracts:

Dr. Victor Veliadis, CTO, PowerAmerica, and North Carolina State University
Topic: SiC Power Devices – High Impact Applications and Path to Wide Adoption

Dr. Stephanie Watts Butler, Technology Innovation Architect, Texas Instruments
Topic: Power Semiconductors – Enabling A Powerful Decade Of Changes

Mr. Sean James, Director of Energy Research, Microsoft
Topic: Data Centers – Disruptive Facility Architectures with Fuel Cells and Load Side Integration

Mr. Jason Busch, Executive Director, Pacific Ocean Energy Trust
Topic: Ocean Energy – Wave and Tidal Energy Opportunities

Dr. Jiaqi Liang, Director of Power Electronics, Hyperloop One
Topic: Hyperloop – Creating the Future of Transportation



Dr. Victor Veliadis,   Deputy Director and CTO, PowerAmerica, and North Carolina State University

SiC power devices: high impact applications and path to wide adoption

Abstract: In an increasingly electrified technology driven world, power electronics is central to the entire manufacturing economy. Silicon (Si) power devices have dominated power electronics due to their low cost volume production, excellent starting material quality, ease of processing, and proven reliability. Although Si power devices continue to make significant progress, they are approaching their operational limits primarily due to their relatively low bandgap and critical electric field that result in high conduction and switching losses, and poor high temperature performance. In this presentation, the favorable material properties of Silicon Carbide (SiC), which allow for highly efficient power devices with reduced form factor and relaxed cooling requirements, will be highlighted. Foundry considerations and cost reduction strategies will be outlined elucidating the path to the projected $1B SiC device market by 2022. SiC MOSFETs, currently being inserted in the majority of SiC based power electronic systems, will be introduced from a power electronics user perspective. Emphasis will be placed on high impact application opportunities where SiC devices are expected to displace their incumbent Si counterparts. These include variable frequency drives for efficient high power electric motors at reduced overall system cost; automotive power electronics with reduced losses and relaxed cooling requirements; novel data center topologies with reduced cooling loads and higher efficiencies; “more electric aerospace” with weight, volume, and cooling system reductions contributing to energy savings; and more efficient, flexible, and reliable grid applications with reduced system footprint. The efforts of the PowerAmerica manufacturing Institute to bridge gaps in wide bandgap power technology to enable manufacturing job creation and energy savings will also be discussed.

Biography: Dr. Victor Veliadis is Deputy Executive Director and CTO of Power America, which is a U.S Department of Energy wide bandgap power electronics public-private Manufacturing Institute. Dr. Veliadis manages a budget in excess of $30 million per year that he strategically allocates to over 35 industrial, University, and National-Laboratory projects, to enable US leadership in WBG power electronics manufacturing, work force development, job creation, and energy savings.

Dr. Veliadis has given over 60 invited presentations/keynotes/tutorials, and is an IEEE Fellow and an IEEE EDS Distinguished Lecturer. He has 25 issued US patents, 3 book chapters, and 115 peer-reviewed technical publications to his credit. Dr. Veliadis is also Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University. He received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1995. Prior to being named Deputy Executive Director and CTO of Power America, Dr. Veliadis spent 21 years in the semiconductor industry where his work included design, fabrication, and testing of SiC SITs, JFETs, MOSFETs, thyristors, and JBS, Schottky, and PiN diodes in the 1-12 kV range.


Dr. Stephanie Watts Butler,    Technology Innovation Architect, Texas Instruments

Power Semiconductors: Enabling A Powerful Decade Of Changes

Abstract: The decade of ECCE has coincided with an unprecedented shift in technology for power generation, delivery, and conversion. This shift, coupled with the advent of smart phones and IOT, has enabled an explosive growth in electronification in industrial, consumer, and automotive markets. According to IC Insights, power management ICs ship in greater quantity than any other type of IC device. The resulting broad application corresponds with an impressive expansion in the features and capabilities of power semiconductors to address the vast scope of end equipment needs. This presentation will examine the changes in power management semiconductors over the past decade. Integration, system in package, voltage levels, and process technologies will be discussed. How different features are more necessary for different markets and applications will be considered. Finally, predictions for changes coming in the next decade will be provided.

Biography: Stephanie Watts Butler, Ph.D., P.E., is the Technology Innovation Architect in High Voltage Power at Texas Instruments (TI), driving new high voltage and isolation technology innovations from concept to revenue by leading partnerships with TI’s technology organizations, manufacturing sites, universities, and product development teams. She has produced innovations in the areas of control, process and package development, R&D management, and new product development. The result is power semiconductors that enable TI’s customers to make smaller, lighter, and more energy efficient products. Dr. Butler has authored more than 40 papers and 17 U.S. patents. She is the Chair of JEDEC’s JC-70 Wide Bandgap Committee, Co-founder of GaNSPEC, and a Fellow of the AVS. SWE honored Dr. Butler with their 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award and Business Insider named Dr. Butler to their most powerful female engineers list of 2017. Dr. Butler also serves on the TxGCP Champion Board and UT Austin Department of Chemical Engineering Advisory Council.


Mr. Sean James,    Director of Energy Research, Microsoft

Data centers: Disruptive facility architectures with fuel cells and load side integration

Abstract: Deploying onsite generation is not a new concept and fuel cells systems are becoming an alternative to conventional power generation equipment. However, simply using fuel cells as an alternative to grid or standby generators does not begin to leverage the disruptive nature of this technology. Microsoft has been researching and testing a new architecture that integrates a simple VDC SOFC system with a server rack. The benefits include cost savings and high efficiency but more importantly simplicity in design. We will review various architectures that can benefit many industries, not only the datacenter market.

Biography: Sean James runs Microsoft’s datacenter research and development program within the Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations group. MCIO provides the foundational cloud infrastructure for over 1,000,000,000 Customers, 20,000,000 Businesses, 200+ Microsoft online services, in 90 Markets. Sean drives new datacenter technology for Microsoft’s next generation data centers including the evaluation, development, and testing.
Sean joined Microsoft in 2006 to manage one of Microsoft’s datacenters. Later, he joined the construction team and oversaw the design and building of new Microsoft data centers.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Sean worked in datacenter management overseeing the day-to-day maintenance and repair operations for both IT hardware and critical infrastructure, such as electrical infrastructure and cooling equipment. Prior to joining Microsoft, Sean served in the US Navy Submarine Fleet as an electrician.
Sean holds many patents related to datacenters and energy, a computer science degree, and is a certified Project Management Professional from the Project Management Institute. He enjoys spending time with his family, guitar, and technology.


Mr. Jason Busch,    Executive Director, Pacific Ocean Energy Trust

Ocean energy

Abstract: The maritime sector consists of several well established markets, such as transportation, fishing, ocean observation/science, and conventional energy. Renewable energy has emerged as an important new sector that is not only a part of the “blue economy,” it also undergirds many of the sectors that make up the blue economy. From energy utilities to aquaculture, port electrification to desalination, clean energy is a key component of economic growth, as well as decarbonizing existing industries.

The Pacific Ocean Energy Trust and its previous iterations, has been engaged in various aspects of marine renewable energy for over a decade. With a mission to promote the responsible development of marine renewable energy, POET has worked to advance marine renewable energy technologies toward commercialization. With over $14,000,000 of funding from the State of Oregon, POET has funded technology R&D, environmental studies, stakeholder outreach, education, and policy development.
Worldwide, marine renewables are quickly tracking toward commercial viability. The question is not whether machines can be built to reliably extract energy from the ocean’s winds, waves, and currents; the question is whether the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of those machines are competitive with other sources of energy. Additionally, these technologies provide benefits not reflected in the LCOE, including resilience, environmental, and coastal economic development, as well as grid benefits.
The technologies themselves vary across sources and markets. Floating wind energy marries established wind technologies with oil and gas technologies, and is most promising for large utility projects. Tidal technologies reflect well established turbine technologies, as well as variations of helical and Archimedes screws. Predictable and backed by established OEMs, these technologies are already coming to market. Wave energy, perhaps the most promising in its flexibility and potential, is the last to converge and commercialize.

Biography: Jason Busch is Executive Director of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET), an organization that support the responsible development of marine energy on the West Coast. Mr. Busch is also a co-chair of the Marine Energy Council, the national trade group for the marine hydrokinetic energy sector.

Mr. Busch is actively involved in both business and community organizations. He is on the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Renewable Energy Advisory Committee, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development Territorial Sea Plan Rulemaking Project Committee, the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center Advisory Council, and the Department of State Lands Rulemaking Advisory Committee. He has multiple publications, including most recently a chapter in Climate Change Impacts on Ocean and Coastal Law, published by Oxford University Press.

Prior to joining Oregon Wave Energy Trust, Mr. Busch was Principal at Sustainable Legal Solutions LLC, where he provided legal services specializing in renewable energy company start-ups and project development. Previously, he was an attorney for Ater Wynne and Stoel Rives in Portland, Oregon.

Mr. Busch holds a B.A. in Political Science from Texas A&M University and a M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi. He received a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 2006 from the University of Oregon School of Law, graduating with honors and admitted to the Order of the Coif.


Dr. Jiaqi Liang,    Director, Power Electronics, Hyperloop One

Hyperloop – Creating the Future of Transportation

Abstract: High speed transportation is one of the most exciting areas of research and development. Its advancement has and will continue to profoundly impact everyone’s life on this planet. With speeds 2-3 times faster than high-speed rail, hyperloop can reduce a 300 km (180 mile) commute to under 20 minutes smashing today’s traditional commuting boundaries. Hyperloop can extend the range of autonomous urban mobility, providing an on-demand physical and digital backbone for connected vehicles.
This talk will share Virgin Hyperloop One’s vision and journey in engineering the first new mode of transport in 100 years, making high speed transportation effortless and affordable. Advanced electromagnetic and electrical energy conversion systems are some of the key enabling components for hyperloop. We leveraged the latest computational and optimization tools to predict our system performance, iterate our designs with less time, and develop prototypes at much lower cost. Our full-scale DevLoop testing facility in Nevada is the only one of its kind in the world, allowing us to test and validate our prototypes at scale, and integrate various complex components and subsystems—all in the controlled environment of the tube. We will share some of our latest design and results from the DevLoop systems.

Biography: Dr. Jiaqi Liang is the Director of Power Electronics at Los Angeles–based Virgin Hyperloop One. He is responsible for engineering hyperloop’s power electronics and energy systems. He was part of the technical core team to deliver the first multi-megawatt linear propulsion subsystem test in early 2016 and the full-scale integrated hyperloop system test in 2017 at VHO’s Nevada test site. Prior to joining Hyperloop One, Jiaqi worked at ABB as a power electronics scientist and R&D project leader. He coinvented more than 10 patents, and coauthored more than 30 technical papers. Jiaqi obtained his Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.