Columbia University receives grant to modernise grid systems
The award, called a Performance-based Energy Resource Feedback, Optimisation and Risk Management (PERFORM) grant, will go towards the development of a dashboard capable of monitoring the electrical grid for the purposes of mitigating financial and engineering risks.
The UoC notes that whilst independent system operators (ISOs) can currently check several conditions regarding the grid’s state, including the energy output of mixed renewable and non-renewable generators, they cannot do not have the technological ability to sufficiently assess or counter risk potential.
Challenging old paradigms
Agostino Capponi, Professor of Industrial Engineering at the UoC and a member of the Data Science Institute (DSI), believes that this project will mark the beginning of a new chapter in energy management.
“Our reliance on risk management techniques constitutes a fundamental shift in the practice of power system modelling.
"We are challenging existing practices by bringing operations research methods based on optimisation, financial risk analytics and modern data science techniques into the hard-core engineering domain of power engineering.”
The optimisation presented by the newly proposed dashboard is certainly transformative: utilising accurate data-feeds, ISOs will be able to react to new developments within minutes or several days depending on the severity of the issue.
By grasping the fundamental risks of the grid, the US’ power supply could be made more efficient, reliable and flexible, with more renewable energy assets capable of being grafted onto preexisting infrastructure.
“On the regulatory side, ISOs will use these metrics to design risk mitigation policies to prevent malfunctioning of the grid. Market participants, moreover, will use our metrics to plan their daily grid operation, and make sound decisions on energy storage and hedge against price fluctuations,” continued Capponi.
Bolstering America’s energy and security
With an experienced team of industrial engineers, physicists, mathematicians and computer engineers, the research is likely to produce top-echelon results. With the DoE previously announcing $25mn in funding for 10 projects focusing on energy management, it seems that the US is gearing up for an increasingly renewable energy-based grid.
“Ensuring the reliability of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure and electric grid is of the utmost importance to America’s energy security and national security,” commented Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes.
“Investing in new technologies and systems that minimise risk and bolster the reliability of US energy will allow us to utilise all of our abundant energy resources in a more integrated and secure manner.”
Finally, Daniel Bienstock, Professor of Applied Physics and Mathematics at UoC, part of the lead research team, stated that the opportunity to work on such an important infrastructure project was a pleasure and a privilege:
“We will call upon our respective skills to design and deploy the risk dashboard for power systems.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to combine all our skills—operations, industrial engineering, risk management and data science techniques—to help America operationalise and streamline its power grid.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.