While a student at BITS Pilani in India, Likhita Ravuri was researching opportunities to complete her undergraduate degree abroad when she came across FREEDM Systems Center. She joined Dr. Sdrjan Lukic’s research team for a semester before returning to India to graduate with her Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. When it came time to select a graduate degree program, Likhita knew that FREEDM at NC State was the perfect choice due to the combination of coursework, research and campus life.
Likhita earned her Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering in December 2017. She currently lives in Rhode Island where she is employed as a Research Electrical Engineer at Voltserver, a venture funded Start-up Company that has developed the first natively digital form of electricity that is safe to touch even at high voltages. Find out more at https://voltserver.com.
1. During your time at FREEDM, how did interactions with industry prepare you for your first professional job?
FREEDM gave me amazing insight into the core of electrical engineering especially power electronics. Additionally, FREEDM also has a unique quality wherein both academia and industry blend so well. The annual industry conference has always been a great opportunity to build connections with the big shots in the industry field. As a masters’ student, I was looking to learn as much as I could in research but having a constant perspective of the industry while pursuing research was a huge bonus. I’ve been working as an Electrical Engineer at Voltserver in the research team since graduation and I feel very privileged to have had that kind of an industry perspective while still in college, even though I’ve never worked in the industry before.
2. How have you applied cross-disciplinary education experiences so far in your career?
We at Voltserver work on creating an alternative way of transmitting electricity that is also touch safe. We call it Digital Electricity (DE). Working on a cutting-edge technology like this in a knowledge-driven company with a dynamic team where things move fast, demands an eye for the big-picture and a constant willingness to expand your horizons. I am always learning new things every day at work, and that is the most exciting part of my job. I believe my experience at FREEDM played a huge role in getting me ready for the pressures and expectations that come with researching on such exciting multi-dimensional concepts and technologies daily. My advisor, Dr. Lukic, introduced me to various projects at FREEDM and working on the website for FREEDM architecture helped me see the center’s “big picture”. FREEDM has always been about combining brains from multiple fields and putting them together to work towards one big idea. One great example of this concept would be the Green Energy Hub project that I have worked on last year. I learned to try to excel in whatever I was expected to deliver in the project while always keeping the broader picture in mind. I also had many opportunities at FREEDM to apply my knowledge to interdisciplinary projects while working with people from different disciplines to make the project better together.
3. What has been your biggest professional contribution to this point?
I started my job at Voltserver in September 2017. I have been mostly working on adding more features into the company’s products for increased efficiency and performance. Digital Electricity is a completely new and promising technology and there are many more advantages with DE over the conventional AC/DC power transmission. This means there is a lot of scope for research in this technology. In the process, I have worked on accurate characterization of multi-conductor power cables. I have worked on the effects of electromagnetic interference between different conductors in a cable and the challenges of going to higher power/longer cable lengths while transmitting DE. I have developed an algorithm for isolating earth-ground faults in the transmission circuit with DE and I have worked briefly on patentable fault detecting capabilities of the technology through a high-frequency signal injection into the circuit.
4. What is the most valuable lesson you learned during your time at FREEDM?
Working at FREEDM has been one of the most important phases in my life, academically and personally. I could see myself transforming into a more responsible adult with so many ups and downs along my way, it really was a roller-coaster ride. I met so many amazing people at FREEDM who inspire me and make me want to push myself a little harder every day. I have made many friends without whom it would not have been as much fun. My most important take-away from my time at FREEDM is that it is never about the end results but it is always about the journey. I learned never to give up. Juggling academic courses, assignments and research definitely is not a piece of cake but in the end, it really was all worth it. During the 2.5 years I was at FREEDM, I learned the importance of patience, perseverance and attention to detail in performing research. With an attitude like that and the amazing FREEDM community always supporting you, you can reach for the stars.