Power and Energy Students Participate in Beneficial Industry Tour of Honeywell and Duke Energy

May 11, 2023

Professors Payman Dehghanian and Can Korman, ECE graduate and undergraduate students, MAE undergraduate students, M.S. Electrical Engineering students from Azerbaijan, and the GW SmartGrid Laboratory research team

Professors Payman Dehghanian and Can Korman led a group of students on an exciting “industry tour” to Charlotte, North Carolina. The group visited Honeywell and Duke Energy Corporation, where they received an innovative and informative tour of the emerging technologies in smart buildings and sustainable energy systems.

“It was an exciting and informative trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. I would like to thank our Professors Can Korman and Payman Dehghanian for providing us with the opportunity to see and participate in the process of developing and operating the latest technology in the field of energy engineering,” Timur Hajiyev, a Master’s student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, said. 

The attendees included 25 ECE graduate and undergraduate students, several Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) undergraduate students, the majority of M.S. Electrical Engineering students from Azerbaijan studying power engineering, and Professor Dehghanian’s research team at GW SmartGrid Laboratory. For many of these students, working at Honeywell or Duke Energy would be a dream come true as they aim to continue helping the ongoing energy transition in their careers.

Participants watching a demonstration at Honeywell

“I always love taking advantage of opportunities like these because they allow me to see how the concepts I learn in class are put to use in real-world systems, and it gets my mind thinking as to how I’d like to contribute to them when I complete my degree. Seeing firsthand how technology is advancing is inspiring and gets me excited to continue learning new things each and every day,” Patrick Burke, a Sophomore in the MAE Department, said.

At Honeywell headquarters, the group was introduced to the impressive technologies involved in smart building development. Stunning holographic projections of Honeywell’s various technologies created an “engineering museum” environment for students to learn from.

At Duke Energy, they learned more about emerging energy technologies, such as hydrogen, and witnessed the inspiring research being conducted within their Mount Holly Microgrid Innovation Lab

“Our students got a chance to visit a leading company in advancing and adopting innovative technologies - a dream work environment for many of our students,” Professor Dehghanian stated. “Duke Energy is one of the largest energy holding companies in the US and has been exploring cutting-edge solutions and services to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable energy future. Duke Energy is currently serving more than 8 million customers with electric services in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.”

“I had an amazing trip to Duke Energy’s facilities and learned so much about their operations and sustainability efforts! It was inspiring to see how they are using innovative technologies and partnerships to drive the clean energy transition and create a more resilient and equitable energy system,” Tural Aliyev, a Master’s student in the ECE Department, said.

Participants watching a demonstration at Duke Energy Corporation of their emerging technologies

Students also participated in hands-on demonstrations of power engineering technologies at Duke Energy. Tyler Wyka, a Junior in the MAE Department, said, “I feel that trips like these are not only good for professional development but also general continued interest in studies. Seeing the real-world application of topics does wonders for further engagement in classes and continuing to push through some rough semesters. Then, the industry contacts meeting you on tours in person can be massively beneficial when searching for summer internships or permanent jobs.”

Overall, this industry tour built upon the student’s existing knowledge of smart buildings and smart energy systems and showed them within the context of these two companies. Eliot Hunter, a Sophomore in the MAE Department, said, “This application of theory gives academics not only a purpose but the power to inspire. While I have largely enjoyed my pursuit of knowledge through this engineering degree, trips like ours that give a sense of perspective into the industry, scientific advancement, and the general future provide a true incentive to take ‘the path of greater resistance.’ After a particularly tough semester, my motivations were clouded and distant, but a simple trip to two companies making leaps and bounds in their respective areas, along with close friends and new acquaintances, both revitalized my academic passions and excited me for the tomorrow being built today, in which I have a role.”

“The students not only learned of innovative practical applications of technology but also received information on internship and career opportunities at both Honeywell and Duke Energy. The trip was very rewarding for the entire group and it also strengthened our relations with both organizations,” Professor Korman stated.

This trip would not have been possible without the coordinated efforts of all involved. Professors Dehghanian and Korman would like to thank the ECE Department for sponsoring the trip, the staff of Honeywell and Duke Energy for their kind hospitality, and the efforts of doctoral student Benedict Vergara for coordinating the trip logistics. On top of learning, the students had fun surprising Professor Dehghanian by celebrating his birthday!

Professor Tarek El-Ghazawi, Chair of the ECE Department, added that the department supported the trip enthusiastically due to its rich educational content and practical exposure for the students. It is one of the ways we leverage our locations, expertise, and connections to provide our students with unique experiences. The presence of Professors Dehghanian and Korman added tremendous value that helped to round out the overall picture, tying up the classroom with practice and showed a great deal of care which is greatly appreciated. On the social side, the two-day trip with faculty and students from around the world bonding together brought up the real spirit of our ECE multicultural family.