2017 Speakers and Panelists
Future of Low-Carbon Energy
Paul A. DeCotis is a Sr. Director at West Monroe Partners within the Energy and Utilities practice. Paul has extensive experience in power marketing in his tenure with Long Island Power Authority as both Vice President of Power Markets and Managing Director of Contract Oversight. Paul has led and completed over $10 billion in power purchase agreements, initiated option and process for repowering of base-load and peaking generation, developed plans for new distributed generation, storage, demand-response, and “feed-in-tariff” and central station renewable energy resources. Paul has extensive governmental experience, serving as Deputy Secretary for Energy, advising two New York Governors. He chaired the State Energy Planning Board and was a member of the New York City Energy Planning Board. Paul founded the Governor’s Clean Energy Collaborative,led establishment of the State’s clean energy portfolio standard, and the New York Battery and Energy Storage Consortium, among other progressive initiatives. Paul holds a BS in International Business Management, an MA in Economics, and an MBA in Finance and Management Studies. Read Paul's Vitae.
Timothy Fox covers alternative power and energy efficiency and contributes to the Firm’s power sector, regulated utility and environmental policy research. For more than a decade, Mr. Fox has provided timely and forward-looking analysis of electricity markets, conventional energy resources and renewable energy policy. Mr. Fox’s prior roles include work as an energy analyst for an international wealth management and private equity firm and as senior manager for a state and municipal government affairs lobbying firm that provides representation on behalf of national trade organizations. Mr. Fox holds an M.B.A. in energy policy from Marylhurst University and a B.A. in Political Science from Trinity College (Connecticut).
Sharon Pillar is the owner of the Hot Earth Collaborative LLC, a consultancy that works to increase the adoption of clean and healthy energy systems that transform our communities, economy and environment. Sharon consults with Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) as their PennsylvaniaAdvocate to raise business voices in support of favorable clean energy policies in Pennsylvania and with other non-profit, business, and government clients to advance clean energy markets through community-based marketing, research, advocacy, and financing. Sharon serves asthe president of the Solar Unified Network of Western Pennsylvania (SUNWPA), the region’s solar trade organization, and on the steering committeefor the Allegheny Solar Cooperative. Sharon has extensive experience with coalition building, program development/management, research, publicpolicy, fundraising, and public speaking. During her eight years at Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, Sharon served as the Project Manager forsolar programs. She holds an M.A. in Earth Literacy from St. Mary’s-of-the-Woods College in Terre Haute, IN and a B.A. in Psychology from Mansfield State University.
Mitch Small is the H. John Heinz III Professor of Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Small’s research involves mathematical modeling of environmental systems, environmental statistics, risk assessment, and decision support. Current projects include the design and evaluation of leak detection at geologic CO2 sequestration sites and shale gas extraction wells; the value of scientific information for conflict resolution among stakeholders with different values and beliefs; and the development of decision support tools for water, energy and ecosystem management. He has published over 200 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals (160), books and conference proceedings.
Small has served as a member of the US EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) and has been a member of a number of US National Research Council (NRC) committees, most recently as chair of the NRC Committee on Risk Management and Governance Issues in Shale Gas Extraction. He is a Fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis and served as an associate editor for the journal Environmental Science & Technology (1995 – 2011), where he helped to initiate the policy analysis section of the journal.
Tom Tarka is a senior engineer within the Strategic Initiatives Group at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). Since joining NETL in 2003, he has specialized in exploring the innovative pathways for responsible use of fossil fuels through the design and evaluation of novel energy systems.
In his current role, Tom is responsible for examining a wide range of energy topics and technologies, as far reaching as electric grid and infrastructure reliability, renewable and fossil electricity generation integration, and opportunities for advanced fossil technologies such as modular systems. He is also the lead engineer on the Department of Energy’s partnership with the City of Pittsburgh, working to transform the energy infrastructure of the Steel City into a model of a resilient and sustainable 21st Century energy system. While his work at NETL is primarily focused on the responsible use and development of fossil energy, his broad interest in how we as a nation use energy has resulted in an in-depth knowledge of energy usage in the United States and abroad. Prior to his work in the energy sector, Tom worked in the Dot.Com sector. He is a registered professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and received his Bachelors of Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Delaware in 1996.
Dr. Costa Samaras is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. His research spans energy, climate change, infrastructure and defense analysis. Costa analyzes how energy technology and infrastructure system designs affect energy use and national security, resiliency to climate change impacts, economic and innovation outcomes, and life cycle environmental externalities.
Costa is also an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the RAND Corporation and a Professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He served on a National Academies Committee evaluating the Department of Energy's advanced transportation energy research portfolio, serves on the Transportation Research Board's Alternative Transportation Fuels and Technologies Committee, and is an editorial board member of the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. He also is a Leadership and Excellence in Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional with a building design and construction specialty.
Judges - Innovation Talks Competition:
Brandon M. Grainger, PhD is currently a research assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Swanson School of Engineering. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering focusing upon megawatt scale power electronic systems and controls with applications in microgrids and medium voltage DC system design. He also obtained his master’s degree in electrical engineering and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (with minor in electrical engineering) all from Pitt.
Dr. Grainger was one of the first endowed Richard K. Mellon graduate student fellows through the Center for Energy at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Grainger’s research concentrations and interests are in all classes of power electronic technology including topology design, semiconductor evaluation (currently Gallium Nitride transistors), advanced controller design, power electronic applications for microgrids, HVDC and FACTS, and circuit reliability. In his career thus far, he has contributed to 30+ articles in the general area of electric power engineering and all of which have been published through the IEEE.
Dr. Grainger has either worked or interned for ABB Corporate Research in Raleigh, NC; ANSYS Inc. in Southpointe, PA; Mitsubishi Electric in Warrendale, PA; Siemens Industry in New Kensington, PA; and has regularly volunteered at Eaton’s Power Systems Experience Center in Warrendale, PA designing electrical demonstrations.
Dr. Grainger is a member of the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES), IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS), and Industrial Electronics Society (IES) and is an annual reviewer of various power electronic conferences and transaction articles. Dr. Grainger serves as the IEEE Pittsburgh PELS Chapter Chair for which the section won chapter of the year in 2015. He is also an ambassador for the National Academy of Sciences and Engineering in the Pittsburgh region.
Jovan Ilić PhD., is currently an Associate Teaching Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Jovan received his PhD in Power Systems and MS in Control Systems from The University of Tennessee in 2001 and 1992 respectively and BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The University of Illinois in 1989. During the 1990s Jovan worked in the IT industry both as an employee and independent consultant. After receiving his PhD in Power Systems, he started and ran a consulting company for four years after which he joined Carnegie Mellon University as a researcher. In 2009, Jovan joined Booz Allen Hamilton providing consulting services to the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense (DOD), Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and other Federal departments. In 2011 he left the consulting world and went back to Carnegie Mellon University as an Adjunct Faculty. While working at CMU, Jovan continued consulting during summers on various microgrid projects sponsored by the Department of Navy (DON) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Jovan’s main research interests are in power systems economics, power electronics applications in transmission and distribution power networks, power systems cyber security, and advanced power systems control.
Dan Siewiorek, Ph.D., is the Buhl University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He has designed or been involved with the design of nine multiprocessor systems and has been a key contributor to the dependability design of over two dozen commercial computing systems. Dr. Siewiorek leads an interdisciplinary team that has designed and constructed over 20 generations of mobile computing systems. Dr. Siewiorek has written nine textbooks in the areas of parallel processing, computer architecture, reliable computing, and design automation in addition to over 475 papers. Dr. Siewiorek has served as Associate Editor of the Computer System Department of the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, as Chairman of the IEEE Technical Committee on Fault-Tolerant Computing and as founding Chairman of the IEEE Technical Committee on Wearable Information Systems. He is a thrust director for the Quality of Life Technology NSF Engineering Research Center. He is also a thrust leader in the Future of Work Center and the Smart Grid Center. His previous positions included Director of the Human Computer Interaction Institute, Director of the Engineering Design Research Center and co-founder of it's successor organization, the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, where he served as Associate Director. He has been the recipient of the American Association of Engineering Education Frederick Emmons Terman Award, the IEEE/ACM Eckert-Mauchly Award, and the ACM SIGMOBILE Outstanding Contributions Award. He is a Fellow of IEEE, ACM, and AAAS and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Professor Siewiorek received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1968, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering (minor in Computer Science) from Stanford University, in 1969 and 1972, respectively.