Undergraduate Research Spotlight: Stephen McConnell Recognized at 2014 IEEE Conference

Stephen McConnell ’14 graduated in May 2014 with a degree in electrical engineering. He worked with Dr. Robert Balog to complete his thesis for the Undergraduate Research Scholars program. A portion of his thesis work, “Photovoltaic Arc-Fault Detection,” was published in the 2014 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Denver, CO. He was listed as first author on the paper “Evaluation Method for Arc Fault Detection Algorithms” and prepared an accompanying poster for presentation from June 9-12th, 2014. Stephen received the “Best Poster” award at the conference.


Stephen McConnell '14 won "best poster" at the 2014 IEEE Conference in Denver, CO.
Stephen McConnell ’14 won “best poster” at the 2014 IEEE Conference in Denver, CO.

by Stephen McConnell –

At the recent 40th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) in Denver, I was surrounded by hundreds of professionals in my field and had the opportunity to hear them give presentations related to their research. These presentations included question-and-answer sessions that followed where peer scientists and engineers offered their feedback and suggestions. This opportunity gave me a more comprehensive view of how my research and potential future publications might be viewed and received by my peers in photovoltaics. It also gave me better insight into the vocabulary and current topics of interest among this vast network of professionals.

My experience in the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program not only allowed me to perform quality research under expert mentorship, but also prepared me to communicate my ideas through the written thesis and poster presentation during Student Research Week. The research I presented at PVSC was directly tied to the thesis I completed for the program.

The UGR Scholars Program was the logical next step after completing photovoltaic research during a summer NSF REU program at Texas A&M. The REU was my first official academic research undertaking and also gave me the opportunity to present my findings via poster display to peers and faculty after a successful summer research project.

I found interest in undergraduate research when I realized that I wanted a more thorough and detailed understanding of the engineering curriculum and after a potential employer suggested it. I would encourage all students who have even the smallest desire to engage in research to act on it by talking to their professors and to discover where that discussion will lead them. I would like to thank HUR for helping to make my most recent research opportunity possible through the organization of the UGR Scholars Program.

Enriching experiences like the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program are offered through Honors and Undergraduate Research thanks to the generous support of the Association of Former Students.

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