Alumni & Scholarships
Meet Master of Energy Engineering Alumni and Students
We believe the Master of Energy Engineering program will provide you with the knowledge you need to move your career to the next level. Practical knowledge, not theory, taught by a faculty with real world experience. But don’t just take our word for it. Hear what some of our alumni have to say about the benefits of a Master of Energy Engineering.
Meet Marcin Jakubowski, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Mentor, Sustainability Leader
Studying Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Refrigeration at the University of Lodz in Poland, Marcin knew he wanted to earn a Master’s degree in the US. He came to the US, studied CAD design and began working as a CAD designer for an Architectural Design firm. From there he moved to an Architectural/Engineering Design firm to work as a Mechanical Engineer. With his career established it was time to get his Masters.
Marcin chose the Master of Energy Engineering program at UIC because he wanted a program that focused on the practical. The best part was that he was able to directly apply knowledge learned in the classroom – HVAC, LEED, energy auditing - to his work.
And, now? Marcin is a Senior Mechanical Engineer at RTM where he is a busy project manager mentoring new engineers and focusing on non-typical sustainability. Currently he is leading teams in RTM’s Energy Sustainability Studio and credits the Master of Energy Engineering program with giving him the unique skill set he needed to establish the Studio.
Class of 2012
Meet Farhan Faisal, Master of Energy Engineering, Class of 2017
As an Undergraduate Research Assistant, Farhan and his team worked on developing architectures and communication layers for rural microgrids. They proposed a dynamic grid forecasting algorithm for grid-connected solar PV microgrids where the grid is intermittent in nature. This low cost resource allocation strategy for rural and semi-urban regions provides the power required from the grid on a day ahead basis.
Farhan and his team were selected to present their paper at the IEEE GHTC – Global Humanitarian Technology Conference 2016. This global humanitarian technology conference focused on bringing people together to address the critical issues for the benefit of the resource-constrained and vulnerable populations in the world.
Congratulations to Farhan and the members of this team!
Class of 2017
Meet Kelly (Costello) Gunn - Energy Research Engineer and ASHRAE Research & Promotion Chair
Kelly is an Energy Research Engineer at Gas Technology Institute where she spends most of her time testing emerging technology products. She works with new products that need to be lab tested before they can be put in the marketplace. The fun part according to Kelly is she “determines the best way to test the product, creates the lab test, and then gets to make it work.” What Kelly loves most is that each day is different and challenging.
Kelly earned a BS in Architectural Engineering with a specialty in Environmental Engineering. However, she wanted to know more about energy to excel her research career. She found the Master of Energy Engineering program offered just what she needed - combined heat & power, grid management, renewable & nuclear energy, air pollution - all important in understanding the energy industry.
Kelly has been an active ASHRAE member since her undergrad days. While a MEE student she won the Illinois Chapter Scholarship - not once, but twice! She currently is the chair of Research and Promotion - actively fundraising and recruiting young professionals. You may want to contact her at ASHRAE!
When asked if she had any advice for new students, Kelly said “find a mentor - it is essential to have help to succeed.” Good advice that’s certainly paid off for Kelly!
Kelly Costello Gunn,
Class of 2015, Energy Research Engineer, Gas Technolony Institute
Meet Triple Award Winner Panos Bakos
Congratulations to Panos Bakos! 2015 was an outstanding year for this Master of Energy Engineering student. Panos has the remarkable distinction of having earned three different scholarship awards in one year!
First was the ASHRAE scholarship which is awarded to exceptional students with excellent academic merit who are interested in a career in the field of heating, ventilation and air conditioning engineering. Panos then won the IBPSA scholarship which sent him to the recent Energy Modeling conference in Atlanta. To complete this impressive year Panos was the recipient of the Consular Corps Scholarship. This prestigious award is given to an international student with a minimum 3.5 GPA.
Panos definitely knows the value of education. He earned his BS in Civil Engineering at the TEI of Athens, Greece and his interest in buildings brought him to Chicago where he received a BS in Architectural Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. He knew he wanted his MS degree, but one with a continued emphasis on Building Science. That led him to the Master of Energy Engineering program at University of Illinois at Chicago.
What’s next for this award-winning student? Panos definitely wants to add PE to his credentials and then, maybe an MBA! With his track record anything is possible.Congratulations Panos!
Meet Dan Comperchio – 2015 Energy Engineer Award Winner
Congratulations to Master of Energy Engineering graduate, Dan Comperchio!
Dan won the Association of Energy Engineers Energy Engineer Award, Region III (Midwest region), for work done with facilities across the Midwest, delivering over 70 million kWh in verified energy savings for more than 180 data center projects. One facility included a multi-year energy efficiency project which reduced the energy use of the data center by 7.4 million kWh annually, equivalent to powering 800 homes.
After graduating from Purdue, Dan went to work for a Chicago engineering firm. His work on design and HVAC projects piqued his interest in sustainability and energy. He knew he wanted to learn more about the energy industry and the Master of Energy Engineering program at UIC was a perfect solution. He could continue to work, UIC was an easy commute and the coursework provided easy- to- apply knowledge that was useful in the real world.
An award winning Master of Energy Engineering!
Class of 2010, Senior Engineer, Willdan Energy Solutions
Meet Ben Drake - Master of Energy Engineering and Presidential Management Fellow
Ben is a member of The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF). As a PMF he was recently selected to develop energy strategy for the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).After considering a MBA Ben discovered the Master of Energy Engineering (MEE) program at UIC - a program he considered ahead of other energy engineering programs. Ben stated that having a MEE degree was important to becoming a PMF. When he was being vetted he had to be very specific about what he wanted to do with his career and his background with the MEE gave him an edge. He believes the MEE program was a launch pad for getting to work on important energy issues. The real world experience of the MEE faculty was invaluable and added another dimension to the courses. In addition to his work in the MEE program, Ben was a participant in the Summer Institute on Sustainability – another unique UIC experience.
Class of 2013, Presidential Management Fellow
The program was created to develop a cadre of potential government leaders. It provides some sustenance during the first years of employment and encourages development of leadership capabilities. Competition is fierce – on average about 10,000 people apply, 500 become finalists and approximately 250 individuals end up with government positions. It is a two year program that allows you to get exposure to high level government programs and policy. Last year the PMF program added an additional component – PMF STEM. Ben highly recommends applying to either program. Ben says it’s an outstanding opportunity to witness first-hand how Federal agencies work with one another and key stakeholders to develop policy. As a PMF he was recently selected to develop energy strategy for the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
Ben’s background is diverse. A BS from Michigan State in Civil and Environmental Engineering was the start, but his love of the sea took him to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. While at Scripps Ben was a member of their global fleet research team and discovered first-hand the threats facing the United States and abroad. He then knew he wanted a career where he could make a difference. A Master’s degree would be important to his future success, but what focus? After considering a MBA, Ben discovered the Master of Energy Engineering program at UIC - a program he considered ahead of other energy programs. Ben stated that having a MEE degree was important to becoming a PMF. When he was being vetted he had to be very specific about what he wanted to do with his career and the MEE gave him an edge. He believes the MEE program was a launch pad for getting to work on important energy issues. The real world experience of the MEE faculty was invaluable and added a lot to the courses. In addition to his work in the MEE program, Ben was a participant in the Summer Institute on Sustainability – another unique UIC experience.
Energy Audits and Project Management Begin Career Path
Wildivina’s first experience with energy auditing was as an undergrad working at the University of Florida’s Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) where she led a team of 8 students through various manufacturing site energy surveys. Upon graduating from undergrad, Wildivina interned in Washington D.C. performing commercial site energy audits. This summer internship, and her previous work at the IAC, further convinced her that she wanted to pursue a career in the energy industry and the Master of Energy Engineering program was a perfect fit.
Wildivina can tell you that networking pays off. While attending an industry conference prior to starting the MEE program, she introduced herself to a recruiter for future reference. After starting the program Wildivina realized she had the time to both pursue her career and work on her degree. She contacted the recruiter who then introduced her to Siemens where she is still employed.
Did working on her Master of Energy Engineering degree help her land the job? Wildivina thinks it did. Siemens had employed other MEE students and knew that the real world experience gained in the program allows the employee to become effective on the job very quickly and eliminate the need for lengthy training.
When asked if she had any advice for women thinking of working in the Energy Engineering field, Wildivina had two suggestions: Improve your communication skills; effective communication is critical to the job. Secondly, don’t be afraid to be the only woman!
Class of 2014, Energy Engineer, Siemens
Master of Energy Engineering Leads to Patent FilingMeet Maher Maymoun recent MEE graduate. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Engineering Maher began working in a sustainable buildings design firm located in Jordan. He knew he wanted to specialize in this field and further his education in energy engineering. Why UIC? Not only was the Master of Energy Engineering program exactly what he was looking for, but a recommendation from a colleague who had received her Masters of Architecture at UIC finalized the decision.
Maher has been in his new job with Baumann Consulting as an Energy Engineer since he graduated from UIC. He credits the MEE Energy Auditing and HVAC courses in particular for preparing him for the real world. Moreover, it was the sustainable and renewable energy course project that motivated him with an idea that was registered as a US provisional patent. He has filed his idea with the US Patent Office, set up a prototype and will begin testing and evaluating the innovation soon.This idea was selected to be one of the GIST Tech-I 2014 semi-finals which is a global innovation competition organized by the US Department of State and American Association for Advanced Science.
We will keep you updated on Maher’s progress with his patent filing and the global competition final results.
Class of 2013, Energy Engineer, Baumann Consulting
MEE Program Facilitates Career Change
"I was an architect with an engineering background from my time with the Navy in the nuclear program. I knew buildings and I knew energy and determined that a new career as a facilities manager would be a good fit. However, I needed an engineering degree for the job I wanted.
I was looking for an energy based program and found lots of courses, but many were on-line programs. I think there are benefits to being in the classroom and I was right. There was a good mix of students and with classmates in the workforce there were good exchanges which kept the class informed of the latest developments in the field. . The course work consisted of current, practical information that was immediately applicable. I thought the program did a good job covering the whole energy spectrum from production to end use."
Class of 2013, Resource Efficiency Manager, Booz Allen Hamilton
"When I graduated from Purdue with a BS in EE I was looking for something new - engineering with a different focus, practical, not theoretical. I wanted skills that would assist me on the job. I looked at other engineering schools and found that the Master of Energy Engineering program was unique and offered the skills I wanted.
The program was a big help with my job where I was immediately able to apply course material at work. I liked that the courses are designed for specific jobs and found it beneficial that the instructors have been out in the real world. Having classes in the evening was also helpful."
Class of 2013, Energy Engineer, Elara Energy Services, Inc.
“During my senior year of undergrad I knew I was interested in the energy industry. I found the Masters of Energy Engineering (MEE) program and liked that I could work while I took classes. I started the MEE program the same time I started a new job at The Shaw Group. I believe my enrollment in the MEE program was definitely a factor in getting the job. Shaw was very interested in the program and currently has one employee enrolled with another one starting class soon.
I thought it was convenient taking classes and working. Interestingly, everything I was learning in class mirrored what I was doing at work.”
CEM class of 2010, Energy Manager, CBRE
"I was interested in renewable and emerging energy and thought the Master of Energy Engineering (MEE) program was a great opportunity to be more involved in the energy field and investigate different technologies. The name Master of Energy Engineering accurately defines the program – it is more technical, more focused and creates more job opportunities. My job is quite challenging and having a MEE degree has helped me to think more practically than theoretically."
Class of 2010, Sustainable Engineering Assistant, Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP
“The Master of Energy Engineering (MEE) is a gateway into the energy field. The instructors, having worked in the energy field, are industry experts and provide unparalleled opportunities for students. The way the MEE program is structured, with evening classes in a great location, allowed me to continue working while fully engaged in the program. The classes are small, making it easy to build long-lasting relationships with my peers. I selected this program because I was looking for a career that had positive employment prospects, interesting work, and also complemented undergrad degree. Ultimately, it was integral to landing my current job, and energy engineering is a great field to go into.”
Hillary Richmond Vadna,
Class of 2011, Engineer, Building Energy Efficiency, Gas Technology Institute
Master of Energy Engineering students earn valuable scholarships. Congratulations!
MIE Graduate Students Sweep ASHRAE Illinois Chapter 2014 Scholarships!
Ben Campbell, Kelly Costello, Amir Salrifard and Professor Bill Ryan, director of the Master of Energy Engineering program. Matt Kaleta not pictured.
Winners of the ASHRAE Illinois Chapter 2014 Scholarships were announced recently and all four winners are from the MIE Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Three winners are enrolled in the Master of Energy Engineering program and one is working on a M.S., Mechanical Engineering. Congratulations to Kelly Costello, Ben Campbell, Matt Kaleta and Amir Salarifard.
Behzad was awarded a Chicago Consular Corps Scholarships 2012 -2013. The prestigious scholarships are awarded to nine UIC students each year. Eligibility is limited to students who have a minimum cumulative UIC GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. The recipients receive $1,000 scholarships.
Behzad is an outstanding example of a Master of Energy Engineering student. He works as a research engineer at the Energy Resource Center and is active in numerous campus activities. Currently he serves as:
- VP – ASHRAE student chapter
- Chair of Sustainability committee at Graduate Student Council
- Member UIC Chancellor’s committee on Sustainability and Energy
- Member at Large in Student Center Board Sustainability Committee
He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue.
Behzad will graduate with a Master in Energy Engineering degree in May 2013.
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