RIT Names Students Selected for Micatu-Sponsored Grid Modernization Research


ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, and CORNING, NEW YORK - Micatu Incorporated, a leader in cutting-edge optical sensing technology, announced the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Kate Gleason College of Engineering has selected two students whose grid modernization research will be sponsored by the company. Dylan Kotmel will leverage real-time data collected from Micatu's Gridview optical sensors to detect and address anomalies on the grid to understand and predict future anomalies. Akash Kumar will use the safe and highly accurate measurements from Micatu's optical sensors to study the campus microgrid responses to renewable integration and will apply these findings to better support the energy transition on utility grids.

"Industry innovation is the only way we can effectively manage the energy transition, and I can't think of a better way to position ourselves for success than to give our young engineering professionals the tools that will support and inspire them to find new ways to manage the grid," said Michael Oshetski, Micatu CEO and an RIT alumnus. "Dylan and Akash were hand-picked by RIT's faculty because of their knowledge, abilities, and skills, and the entire Micatu team looks forward to seeing the innovations they create based on data from our groundbreaking optical sensors. Allowing young engineers to not only learn themselves but help us to learn more about what our technology can do is why we partnered with RIT," Oshetski said. "In an industry that needs some fresh, young, bright minds, we're proud to sponsor Dylan and Akash and are excited to see what we can gather from their research."

Graduate research assistant Dylan Kotmel, a fourth-year student from Ithaca, New York, who is pursuing a master's in industrial and systems engineering, was selected for a Micatu sponsorship based on his work detecting grid anomalies. Kotmel plans to utilize his research in his final project for his dual-degree program.

"We're going to be getting these massive amounts of data from the sensors that will continue coming to us in real-time, and my goal is to come up with an anomaly detection method to analyze the different variables like voltage readings, temperature readings, and more to find anomalies most efficiently," Kotmel said. "I’m excited about this opportunity because not only is it my first time analyzing a large amount of data in real-time, but it will also allow me to apply the knowledge I have while making a difference within the industry.”

RIT industrial and systems engineering associate professor Katie McConky, who co-leads the research program with assistant professor Bing Yan and selected Kotmel for the sponsorship, says that the significant amount of data gleaned from Micatu’s sensors’ interactions with the microgrid will allow students like Kotmel and Kumar to study irregularities and anomalies in the system.

“We’re not only going to learn what the anomalies are, but we’ll also learn what normal-looking data looks like,” says McConky. “That way, we can understand what’s causing disturbances to come through and take actions to prevent those disturbances in the future.”

Akash Kumar, a Pakistani native in his first semester, pursuing his master’s degree in electrical engineering at RIT, says he hopes to use his research to learn more about renewable integration into utility grids.

“This project is utilizing a novel concept of optical sensors for the detection of voltage, current, power quality, and harmonics—all of these important parameters that engineers should know regarding electrical power,” Kumar said. “Not only will I get hands-on experience, but possibly some ideas about how to integrate these sensors in different situations. For example, if there is any fault on the transmission line, then we can detect and isolate a particular section of the transmission line with the problem so that only that section is affected.”

RIT electric and microelectronic engineering assistant professor Bing Yan, the supervising faculty member for Kumar’s research project, says the Micatu partnership provides professors and students more insight into renewable integration and synchronous inertia associated with the integration of renewable energy sources into modern grids.

“From the data, we will be able to draw more insights on how to better optimize power systems and distributed energy systems, which will only become more important in the next several years as industries continue the process of bringing renewable energy into the grid,” Yan said.

Last May, Micatu installed its state-of-the-art optical sensors on the RIT campus to provide a safe opportunity for students to monitor the campus microgrid and experience a hands-on learning environment in a real-world laboratory.

The student sponsorships are a continuation of this partnership. Through the entirety of its work with RIT, Micatu is creating opportunities for students to identify innovative career paths in the energy sector and is instilling the skills necessary for addressing the current and future challenges of managing the bidirectional flow on the grid resulting from renewable integration. The optical sensors also enable students to work with advanced technology to prepare them better to work with a modern, digital grid.