Student Spotlight

The Power Electronics Group: Samantha Gunter

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Hometown, Country:
Chicago, IL, USA

Academic history prior to coming to MIT:
B. Sc. in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

What brought you to MIT?
One of the greatest issues our society faces today is the steadily growing demand for energy and the negative impacts of its consumption on the world. I thought that pursuing an EECS M.S. degree with MIT would allow me more time and opportunity to develop a stronger base for a career in energy efficiency and sustainable technology. I came to MIT with the intent of only earning an M.S. degree; however, I enjoyed being at MIT so much that I stayed to pursue a PhD.

What problem are you trying to solve with your current research and what are some possible applications?
For my research, I am designing and building a converter (or power supply) that will take a few hundred watts of power from a source that is a few hundred volts at direct current (dc) and deliver it to a load at a dozen volts, also at dc. We intend to deliver this power at efficiencies above 97% even if the input voltage drops by a hundred volts. We envision that the initial application for this type of converter would be in data centers to deliver power to servers from a dc bus which may be connected to solar PV panels and/or a battery backup system (inherently dc sources).

What interests you most about your research?
When I was a senior in undergrad, I remember one of the first assignments in the power electronics class I took was to go around my apartment and list 10 things that had power electronic devices in them. Since then, it has become very clear to me that power electronics is ubiquitous. I want to make our society more sustainable and improving the efficiency of power electronic devices is an extremely impactful means of doing so. I am also really excited that this particular work will help promote the inclusion of sustainable sources, like solar PV systems.

What are your future plans?
I will most likely try to find a job in industry, particularly in research and development, where I can explore impactful technologies to make our power and energy systems more efficient and sustainable.

Learn more about the Power Electronics Group