2018 Taber Scholar’s personal experiences with power shortages lead to Energy Systems degree
During summer vacation at her grandmother’s home in a small town in the state of Gujarat in India, Kruti Subhash Chand Goyal experienced firsthand how power stoppages disrupt lives.
“Power shortages were scheduled; (townspeople) were told well in advance when they would have power,” Goyal said. “However, even during the scheduled period the power supply would occasionally be stopped. Walking around the town, I saw how difficult the life was for some people. Every household chore was done before sunset. If there was something that needed attention, torches and candles were used. Students and their education took a blow as there had to ensure they had very limited time to study.
“These experiences inspired me to study renewable energy sources, as I believe they have more penetration than conventional resources,” Goyal said. “I do not want to be a mere advocate of this cause, but actively work towards advancement in the field that deserves to be more progressive than corrective. Being a real-life Lorax, I aspire to create a difference to the life of many who have been deprived of one of the basic necessities of life - electricity.”
This passion led Goyal in fall 2018 to the Master of Engineering Energy Systems Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after she completed her bachelor’s degree in May in chemical engineering at D.J. Sanghvi College of Engineering in Mumbai, India. Goyal was selected as a 2018 Taber Scholar to support her pursuit of the professional engineering master’s degree. She expects to graduate in May 2019.
Shortly after arriving on the Urbana campus in the fall Goyal began working with Sun Buckets, a social business established by Bruce Elliott-Litchfield, a professor in Agricultural & Biological Engineering at Illinois. The company develops portable cookstoves that harness solar energy, providing affordable and clean energy solutions in remote regions around the world.
“As an energy systems engineering intern, I am working on the engineering design of the vessels and a recently launched crowdfunding campaign,” Goyal said. “I am also working at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center as a researcher to test different crops for their heating value and viability as a potential clean-energy feedstock.”
She also takes part in the Photovoltaic and electric design team for Illinois Solar Decathlon. “We are trying model net-zero home to advance towards an environmentally sustainable future.”
Goyal plans to focus her degree’s capstone project on exploring thin film solar cells technologies and performance enhancement. “My interest lies in material selection and fabrication of solar cells.”
“What I really like about my program is the healthy engagement with my batchmates. We have a professional development class with the program director (Prof. Rizwan Uddin of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering), which allows us to interact and collaborate in a professional setting. My academic advisor, Amy McCullough, deserves a special mention as she has been my go-to person whenever I need help.
“Due to the program’s interdisciplinary nature, I took courses from different departments that helped me concretize my interest and goals,” Goyal continued. “This career-oriented program has been smartly designed to include professional development courses right from the first semester. It has helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses and subsequently refine my overall credentials.”
Nearing the end of her first semester on campus, Goyal said her Illinois experience has been “delightful.”
“The University of Illinois has the most inclusive community and I am very lucky to be a part of it,” she said. “The professors are extremely passionate about their subjects and helpful, not just with the coursework but also otherwise.”
Goyal also appreciates the campus culture.
“Coming from a city that never sleeps, Green Street feels like home,” she said. “I love the lively atmosphere and the hustle-bustle even late at night. Additionally, the wide range of restaurants and pubs that offer delicious food from so many different cuisines requires a special mention.”
The Taber Scholarships were established by Brad Radl, a 1980 alumnus of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at Illinois and President and Chief Technical Officer of Taber International. The Ohio-based firm works with electric utilities on achieving efficiency gains and emissions reductions.
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