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Making a Positive Impact on Future Talent for the Electric Power Conversion Arena

Joshua Lubin, Pitt ECE Masters Student, Selected for 5th Annual Innomotics Peter Hammond Scholarship

Joshua Lubin, a master’s student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, has been selected to receive this year’s Innomotics Peter Hammond Scholarship for $10,000.

The scholarship, which is in its fifth year, benefits graduate students in Pitt’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering by alleviating financial barriers for promising engineers while also harnessing their potential. It is named for Peter Hammond, the now-retired inventor of the Perfect Harmony drive and esteemed engineer at Siemens. Hammond’s Perfect Harmony drive is a high-power, medium voltage, multilevel, motor drive that controls the speed of large motors and has been revolutionary in decreasing the carbon footprint of industrial equipment.

"We are incredibly excited about this scholarship and the opportunity it will provide for a graduate student studying electric power engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering," said Kevin Wissner, Director of Research & Development at Innomotics based in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. "Our dedication to fostering local talent and future engineering pioneers is at the heart of this scholarship fund. The initiative is one of many ways we strive to contribute to the development of the engineering field and support the cultivation of young, innovative minds.”

Several supply chain issues make it difficult to obtain rare earth metals needed for permanent magnet machines. Lubin’s research focuses on how non-rare earth metals, a more abundant resource, can be used in permanent magnet machines and the research effort is sponsored by the Department of Energy.

One issue currently of interest to the electric machine community is predicting when permanent magnet demagnetization will occur.  Former Peter Hammond Scholar Ryan Brody has been evaluating this problem as part of his PhD work. Lubin, rather than looking at just the electric motor, is extending this work by studying demagnetization effects when the motor drive goes under different types of short circuit conditions. If the magnets reach a demagnetization state, the system is classified as a motor drive failure. Motor failure forces the manufacturer to undergo a long and costly process of remagnetizing the magnets. 

“What Josh is doing now is reflective of what Innomotics is looking for in future engineers as part of their business units,” says Brandon Grainger, associate director of the Energy GRID Institute, Eaton Faculty Fellow, and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Swanson School. “His research in permanent magnet based motor drives is making an impact in the electric power industry space including renewable energy and electric vehicle markets. A university who develops strong company collaborations like this will find it instrumental in implementing novel ideas to benefit people in society, and helps bring confidence that projects will be almost 100 percent successful. Technology-to-market strategies are critical for any investment being made in new technology directions.”

Lubin completed his undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering in 2023 at the Swanson School. By taking so many undergraduate courses before graduating, Lubin was able to complete three graduate level courses that transferred to fall 2023 when he began his MS.

“I am very proud to receive this scholarship,” Lubin said. “It will further drive my current research and inspire me to produce results that can push the field of electrical engineering in a positive direction.”