Anthony Ekeopara came to Illinois in August 2015 having earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering two years earlier from Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. He worked for the Transmission Company of Nigeria for a year as a field engineer on high voltage electric transmission and equipment maintenance. Wanting to acquire theoretical and practical experience about renewable energy production, integration, and transmission, he searched the web to locate a master’s degree program.
Considering those at Purdue and Illinois, he picked the latter because of its flexibility. “(Energy Systems) allowed me to choose my program based on my interest.” Ekeopara explained. He also appreciated the perspective the program offers its students. The Master of Engineering in Energy Systems degree at Illinois “is a very unique program tailored for individuals interested in understanding the big picture as it concerns all aspects of renewable.”
For his professional development requirement, Ekeopara studied a novel approach for improving yield, productivity and economic viability of biofuel production from algae. “It was challenging, but I learned a lot from it,” Ekeopara said.
“I learned that, with novel ideas and proactive policies, the challenge of climate change and reducing our carbon consumption and emissions is possible. Electric and biofueled vehicles provide significant energy savings and reduced emissions as well. I also learned about the logistical challenges facing biofuel transportation.”
Anthony Ekeopara earned the Energy Systems degree in December 2016. He now is working as a commissioning engineer to install and commission protection schemes, devices, and electrical switchgear.
Ekeopara hopes to gain practical experience in the field, and contribute to innovation in renewable energy production, grid integration, and grid reliability. Long range, he would like to return to his homeland equipped with knowledge that will benefit his country. “In Nigeria, there is not sufficient innovation; there is a 7.5 percent loss in electricity in transmission,” he said. “My gaining some practical knowledge and experience might help with that.”