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03/01/2011 08:00:00

Caltech Student Recognized as a "New Face" of Engineering

For Javad Lavaei, a PhD candidate in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, seeking a career in engineering came naturally.

"I was very interested in learning advanced mathematics when I was in high school," says Lavaei. "I had a craving to put my knowledge into practice and to design real-world systems."

With strong family support and motivational high-school teachers who encouraged his interest in engineering, Lavaei pursued and completed a bachelor's and master's degree in electrical engineering. Now, he has the chance to influence other young students to pursue engineering careers as part of the New Faces of Engineering program.

Lavaei was highlighted for his "interesting and unique work" by the program, which is organized by the National Engineers Week Foundation and recognizes engineers who have been in the workplace five years or less and have shown outstanding ability in projects that significantly impact public welfare or further professional development and growth.

"I am very happy that my work has been recognized by senior engineers and that they have considered me a successful engineer," says Lavaei, who is working toward a degree in control and dynamical systems. His current research focuses on techniques specialized for power systems that could potentially save energy, reduce costs, and improve reliability, such as the design of a smart grid. A smart grid utilizes digital technology to improve how electricity travels from power plants to consumers. In the past, he has worked in many different areas of electrical and computer engineering, including control, circuits, communications, and networks.

Lavaei encourages students to apply their enthusiasm for engineering to improving communications infrastructures, electrical power grids, and other areas that can benefit society. 

"I think it's very exciting to work on important engineering problems and find solutions for them that can, in principle, affect everyone's lives in the future," he says. "Students can be very successful in engineering if they have a passion for understanding and/or designing real-world systems."

The National Engineers Week Foundation is a coalition of more than 100 engineering societies, major corporations, and government agencies that seeks to increase public understanding and appreciation of engineers' contributions to society. For more information, visit www.eweek.org.

Written by Katie Neith