BigDEALPanel: Career After Studying Energy Analytics
In an online symposium, graduates from Systems Engineering and Engineering Management (SEEM), shared their experiences as member of the department’s BigDEAL group. Study in the lab was demanding they said, but has led to exciting and rewarding careers in the fields of energy forecasting and statistical analysis.
BigDEAL (Big Data Energy Analytics Laboratory) is run by Dr. Tao Hong, Associate Professor and Research Director of SEEM. “I brought some of my former students together,” Dr. Hong said, “to tell their stories and give potential students and job hunters a better idea of what the field of energy forecasting looks like. These graduates were very good students, and have gone on to very successful careers.”
Below are highlight quotes from the former students. The full recording of the seminar is here.
Saurabh Sangamwar, MSEM’19
Statistical Modeling Analyst
Saurabh is a Statistical Modeling Analyst at Nestle, supporting their demand forecasting team. He completed his master’s degree in Engineering Management in May 2019. As a member of BigDEAL and a research assistant under Dr. Hong, Saurabh completed his master’s thesis in electric load forecasting. Before joining Nestles he worked for two years as an assistant manager in Godrej & Boyce in India.
“I’m always proud to have been part of the BigDEAL,” Saurabh said. “I didn’t take Dr. Hong’s class my first semester, but did the second semester. I was lucky enough to be part of that team. When I joined BigDEAL, I thought the I had done most of the hard work to get in, but that was just the start of the actual work. The good part about being part of the lab is you are surrounded by good people and it automatically helps you. This is how I was introduced to the forecasting process. Once I completed my thesis, I started looking for a job. I had a four or five offers, and Dr. Hong invited me to sit down and discuss them. With his help I decided to go to Nestle. What I learned during my time in BigDEAL got me used to high pressure, and now when I run into similar situations at Nestle it is no big deal for me.”
Jingrui(Rain) Xie, MSEM’15; PhD’16
Lead Forecasting Specialist
Dr. Jingrui (Rain) Xie earned her M.S. in Engineering Management (2015) and a Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environment Systems (2016) from UNC Charlotte. She is currently a lead forecasting specialist at National Grid, where she leads the company’s electric load forecasting work and represents the company with regional regulators and regional system operators. Before joining NationalGrid, Dr. Xie worked for SAS, first as an analytical consultant and then as a research statistician developer.
“When I joined Dr. Hong’s lab 2015, my daughter was four months old,” Rain said. “I had fulltime job, a new born baby, and I decided to do a Ph.D. It was definitely very challenging. It turned out to be the most productive time in my past 30 years. It was a very challenging time, but very rewarding. In 2019, I decided to move to New York and join National Grid as a lead forecasting specialist. I represent the company working with grid regulators and system operators.”
Masoud Sobhani, MSEM’17; PhD’20
Data Science Consultant
Dr. Masoud Sobhani is a data scientist at Duke Energy Corporation based in Charlotte, NC. He works with the Modeling and Advanced Analytics team to provide data solutions for the company's business needs.
Dr. Sobhani received his M.S. in Engineering Management and Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems from UNC Charlotte under the supervision of Dr. Tao Hong. He was a graduate assistant in BigDEAL lab, and also did two summer internships at North Carolina Electric Membership Cooperatives (NCEMC).
“In 2016, I started my masters in Engineering Management,” Masoud said. “In my first semester, I decided to take Dr. Hong’s forecasting class. It was a new level of challenge for all us. We started with 20 students and ended up with four survivors. The next semester, I registered for anther course with Dr. Hong and he asked me ‘are you crazy?’. I went on to the Ph.D. program and BigDEAL lab in fall 2017, and graduated in August 2020. I am now working at Duke Energy as a data scientist, providing data solutions for the business units. Comparing myself now to who I was in 2016, I see two completely different people work wise. I learned to work very hard, which prepared me well for the job market.”
Deeksha Dharmapal, MSEM’20
Load Forecasting Analyst
Deeksha did her master thesis research under the guidance of Dr. Tao Hong in BigDEAL, and graduated with a MSEM degree in May 2020. Prior to joining graduate school, she worked at Amazon as an analyst in their Strategic Pricing department and at Wipro Technologies as a project engineer. She is now a Load Forecasting Analyst at POWWR.