Spotlight on Fathalla Eldali, doctoral student and Spirae intern
Alan Cogen’s generous $100,000 gift to the Colorado State University Energy Institute supports — among other things — twelve summer internships for deserving students pursuing careers in energy. CSU doctoral student in advanced power engineering Fathalla Eldali was selected to receive a summer internship at Spirae, LLC.
Spirae, LLC is an energy company with offices in both the CSU Powerhouse Energy Campus Resident Enterprise Partner Zone (REPZ) and on College Ave. in downtown Fort Collins. Spirae provides software for managing renewable and distributed energy resources for smart grids. They make a controller for microgrids (small-scale electric grids often run on a combination of solar energy, diesel and battery storage that supply remote locations or small villages). The controller known as Wave™ can help better manage a microgrid and the power sources for it (i.e. wind, solar, battery power), and in so doing meet customer objectives like reducing fuel consumption or saving money.
Eldali learned about Spirae by being in the right place — the CSU Powerhouse Energy Campus. One day he was working in the Powerhouse with a CSU microgrid company called XPower. Eldali, who is a member of IEEE (a professional organization for engineers that is dedicated to advancing technology for the good of humanity), was looking for experts to give presentations to the chapter here in the West. Don Wright, an applications engineer at Spirae was in the microgrid lab that day as well, and the two got to talking about their shared interests.
Soon thereafter Eldali found himself interning with Spirae. The internship is broad and allows him to work with different teams within the company. He’s helped with proposal writing, planning for future projects and hopped on sales calls with customers to demo the Wave™ software to potential customers and explain its technical capabilities. “I have worked with a wide range of people at Spirae from the CEO, and well probably I’ve worked with everyone,” said Eldali.
This diverse range of experience has proven invaluable to Eldali, who was excited to be put in the mix on day one of his internship. One of the most valuable skills he believes he has learned is sales. “The sales part of engineering has been something I haven’t worked with before. It is a really important piece and didn’t have experience with it before,” he explained. Adding that he was pulled onto a sales call with a customer on his second day. “I was watching engineers work together with sales people to answer questions. It was a nice experience to see interaction.”
He also says he has been able to increase his knowledge about what can be done in the microgrid industry technically. On the non-technical side, he feels like his internship has taught him to plan for projects, figure out what teams are needed, ensure the right resources are available, and have overall better project management skills.