Student Spotlight : Gaelen McFadden

Student Spotlight : Gaelen McFadden
June 30, 2016 | posted by The Institute

In May 2016 Graduate Research Assistant Gaelen McFadden was asked to visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado to further his forecasting building electric load research. He shares with us his thoughts on his experience.

Tell us the reason for your trip.

My research is based on forecasting building electric load and solar PV using machine learning methods. We went to implement these in in a simulated microgrid environment on the NREL campus.

Why was this innovative?

As distributed renewables and energy storage penetrate the market, the electrical grid becomes much more complex. This project requires advanced control schemes and communication protocols and the Institute was contracted to provide inputs into those control schemes. In terms of forecasting and communications we are implementing the most advanced systems currently deployable outside of supercomputing environments. The Open Field Message Bus system is the future for the Internet of Things based grid management systems.

What was your role during the event?

I was in charge of the setup up of our system and managed all of our software, including the communication systems. I implemented our load forecasting system on their network.

What were the biggest challenges?

We had been told we were deploying to a different architectural system that what we actually ended up deploying on. This required changing some of our approaches and ended up costing us about a day’s worth of work (which is a lot on a two day trip!)

How can your new knowledge be applied to your professional career?

It’s important to experience the process of setting up a system in addition to doing the design work. There is a vast chasm between designing something in a lab and implementing it in the field. That experience is crucial to truly understanding the work I’m doing and a valuable skill to bring to the table.