My name is Guadalupe Gonzalez and I am a Panamanian engineer and researcher in the area of power and energy systems. Since 2011 I am an Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Advanced Energy Technologies and Sustainability Program in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Technological University of Panama (UTP). I am also honored to be a senior member of IEEE, a member of the Panamanian Association for the Advancement of Science (APANAC), the Panama’s National System of Research and Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Furthermore, in the private sector, I am a Co-Founder and Managing Associate of EGB Associates, which is a Panamanian-American company that offers consulting services on various aspects of power and energy technologies.
From a very young age, my parents nurtured in me a strong appreciation for math and science, which ultimately led to my decision to study Electromechanical Engineering at the Technological University of Panama. As a young woman in an academically demanding program, which consists mostly of male students, there were many challenges that I needed to overcome. However, teamwork, perseverance and hard work were the key to my success. Besides, I was fortunate to have an amazing group of mentors, mainly Dr. Hall and Dr. Solis, who taught me the value of the field that I was getting involved in, motivating me to pursue research and showing me through their experiences the impact my work could have on our society. When still a sophomore, I started as a student researcher working in electric machines modeling, more specifically, designing a software that integrated different design aspects of a switched reluctance motor, from geometry selection to finite element analysis, in order to simplify the first stages of the design process of this type of machinery. This was a very exciting experience as it was a novel area of research in our university.
In 2006 I was awarded a scholarship by the government of Panama through the National Secretariat of Science and Technology (SENACyT) to pursue my doctoral studies in Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. I had the honor to study under the guidance of Dr. Mehrdad Ehsani which is the Director of the Power Electronics and Motor Drives Laboratory in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. During my graduate studies, I had the opportunity to work on various projects related to sustainable engineering, power electronics for renewable energy applications, advanced power systems and modeling of electromagnetic systems, which became the main topic of my doctoral thesis. I am a proud Texas Aggie, and I have fond memories of my professors, the staff and my classmates at the Department of Electrical Engineering as well as the whole Aggieland community. They sure know how to make you a 12th man for the rest of your life.
Nowadays I am back in my country working as a faculty member of the Technological University of Panama, which is a state university focused on educating the technical workforce of Panama since its origin in 1981. Besides my teaching activities, I co-direct the Advanced Energy Technologies and Sustainability Program with Dr. Ronald Barazarte. In our research group, we develop and evaluate energy technologies in the context of sustainability searching for optimal solutions regarding national and regional energy problems. One of our recent projects, sponsored by Panama’s National Secretariat of Energy, was to develop a preliminary energy planning study for Panama. We have also studied the effect of efficiency in energy resource longevity under the scope of sustainability and the effect of renewable energy penetration in aggregated energy costs. Some of our research activity involves undergraduate students, who are eager to show their potential and enhance their engineering knowledge and abilities through their research projects. It is a privilege to guide them the same way my mentors once guided me.
As consultants, Dr. Ehsani, Dr. Barazarte and I teamed up to co-found EGB Associates. We provide locally based, world class consulting services, guiding our clients in the selection, purchase, engineering design and implementation of advanced energy technologies available on the market, as well as in the planning and development of new energy products and applications. Our managing associates work with our worldwide network of technical associates in all areas of engineering. Being based in Panama City, Panama, we understand the special issues of working on technological projects in Latin America and its business environment.
IEEE as part of my life
I joined IEEE when I was a graduate student at Texas A&M University. First, I thought it was just a source of reliable information but, not much later, I recognized the value of this community of professionals that works altogether towards the development of science and technology and I decided that I wanted to be an active part of it. In 2011 I joined the IEEE Panama Section and I have been collaborating with them ever since. Currently, I am the Coordinator of the Technical Program of the 34th Convention of Central America and Panama (CONCAPAN), which is the largest and most important technological event in the Central American region and will take place in Panama on November 12-14. This event will include lectures and exhibitions of products and services that contribute to technological innovation, as well as the amenities and joys of Panama City, which is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Central America.
Since 2013 I am the Vice Chair of the PES Panama’s Chapter. It has been a rewarding experience not only because I have been able to share my technical experience with the Panamanian power industry but also because alongside Ivan Castillo and Leonardo Perez (current Chapter Chair and Treasurer, respectively), we have been able to organize technical, professional and educational activities that benefit our vibrant community of professional members and students. Our commitment was recognized by PES honoring our chapter with the Outstanding Chapter Award 2013 in the category of Small Chapter.
Furthermore, this year I am a member of the Board of Officers of the affinity group WIE Panama. We carry the global WIE mission by promoting the recruitment and retention of women in technical disciplines. Our goal is to increase the number of women in STEM careers in Panama. It is important to point out that in my country there are multiple areas in STEM where women can flourish (i.e. programming, technical design, consulting, research, etc.). However, there are still misconceptions about the role of women in technical careers that usually, if not clarified on time, tarnish the aspirations of young women to pursue these areas of study. Our activities have been focused on educating our society on the benefits of involving more women in STEM professions.
Women in Power (WiP)
Since I have dedicated my efforts to promote the power and energy sector and the role of women in STEM careers, I was thrilled when I learned of the IEEE PES Women in Power initiative. Currently I am honored to serve as the WiP Regional Representative for Latin America (Region 9) and my main objective is to promote its mission, to foster a more diverse leadership by supporting the career advancement, networking and education of women in the energy industry.
In Latin America, many women have given testaments of success in the power and energy sector. We are asking these women to share with the rest of our members their technical experience as well as their path to professional accomplishment and subsequently be role models to newcomers. We want to showcase, by example, that women have the ability to hold leadership positions in governmental institutions or private companies not because of gender bias but because we have the skills to get the job done.
I encourage new members and partners to join and collaborate with Women in Power. For more information about the organization, please visit http://pes-women-in-power.org.