Taber Fund created to support Energy Systems degree
Having worked 30 years in the energy industry, NPRE alumnus Brad Radl is convinced the creation of Illinois’ Energy Systems Masters of Engineering is a timely answer to the industry’s current needs.
“The energy industry is experiencing a dynamic phase,” Radl said. “Efficient, clean and reliable energy provides a key foundation of any advanced economy. Without new talent entering the field, the U.S. as whole faces a risk of falling behind in a key industry.
“The NPRE program by necessity requires students to have a solid understanding of physics and energy principals, providing a natural foundation for understanding many different types of energy production and methods of energy distribution,” he continued. “The NPRE program also offers a great mix of knowledge with other engineering disciplines in mechanical, materials, and electrical, to name a few.”
Radl, BS 80, is President and Chief Technology Officer of Taber International, an engineering services firm providing solutions to fossil-fired power plants, focusing on heat rate gains and nitrogen oxide emissions reductions through applications of intelligent sootblowing, combustion optimization, and hydrogen pressure optimization on generators. Based in Chardon, Ohio, Taber has developed the Griffin Toolkit, capable of addressing opportunities in ‘big data’ problem sets and optimization and integration of renewable energy onto the grid.
Radl has created within NPRE the Taber International LLC Fund to support the new degree program.
“The program’s mission statement was broad-based to include many aspects of energy production and the social/regulatory environment it is produced in,” Radl said. “The industry is in a state of flux and many opportunities now exist to have a large impact on the future. Also, with the aging workforce in the energy industry, it was important to look at ways to encourage innovative engineering minds to become involved in energy issues.”
The engineers the new program produces could be helpful to companies such as Taber. “The program provides an opportunity for one or more engineers to become acquainted with energy systems and hopefully move on into the field,” Radl said. “New ideas and concepts may be created that mesh with our company goals of real-time control and optimization of the energy production and distribution process.”
Exploring new ideas as part of a team project to design a reverse pinch spheromk reactor counts among Radl’s best memories from his time as an NPRE student. “It was the first real opportunity to work interactively with students and professors on a multi-disciplinary type project,” Radl said. “Personally, I really enjoy physics (plasma physics in this instance), and this gave me a goal and objective to really dig into the physics. The interchange with other students to understand limitations in materials, electrical currents, etc., was a bit of an eye opener on how all the various parts played together. It ultimately helped set me on my career path of using computers to model many different processes and then use the models in optimization and in control applications. While a lot of work, it was great to learn how much fun it was to delve into a project.”
Radl has this advice for students, as well as project teams, as they delve into their own projects: “Keep an open mind on problems. Physics set the true limits on what can be done. Engineering is the art of removing the obstacles that others believe are the constraints.”