Miriam Sanders’ philosophy is to never stop learning. She continues to learn by developing and teaching new courses at SEL University. As senior instructor, she tells students to be open to learning from anyone. “Even if you don't particularly like the person or the person's beliefs, you can always learn from them,” Sanders said.
Sanders has recently been named chair of the IEEE PES Technical Council, which she says gives her a much wider field of knowledge than what she traditionally teaches or presents to students.
At SEL University, Sanders covers the fundamentals of protection and communications and is developing a new course on data communications, which will focus on the fundamentals of the data communications necessary for substation automation.
Sanders shared her experience and excitement for her field with T&D World:
Q: How does your experience help you in teaching and developing courses at SEL University?
My appointment as chair of the IEEE PES Technical Council is giving me a broader perspective beyond protection and communications and helping me communicate how our industry fits into the larger world.
Q: When and why did you decide to go into power system protection?
My first semester at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, I was enrolled in the college of math. It was a good fit for me because I really like working on puzzles and solving problems. I met a student in my chemistry class who showed me how he worked on solving puzzles in engineering. He talked to the head of the engineering department, and I ended up changing my major. From there, I did some summer work at Duke Power, now Duke Energy, where I worked in their substation design department and became familiar with protection systems. Power system protection was a natural fit for me since my school subjects were electronics and power.
Q: What's the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job now is that I get to take all I have learned through the many years and help new engineers grow into being the best engineer that they can be. I also get to learn about new subjects as I take on the teaching of new courses. My philosophy is to never stop learning—make sure you learn something new every day. It might be something simple or more complex—but continue to learn. No one can know everything.
Q: What courses have you presented in the past and what’s coming up?
I mostly cover the fundamentals of protection and communications, but I’ve also taught the symmetrical components courses—both as a three-day instructor-led training and the one-hour webinars. While I’m not an expert in symmetrical components, I really enjoy teaching it because it’s mathematical and practical all at once. With engineering, it’s essential to know how to apply the basic principals in order to solve the problem or achieve the results you need.
Q: How is power system protection important to the industry?
Protection has been essential to the evolution of the electric power system. It keeps it running smoothly and helps "keep the lights on." Now with the advent of intelligent devices for protection, we are able to interconnect components so they can become even more intelligent and act on a wider area.
Students need to understand the importance of intelligence in today's protection system while still understanding the value of keeping it as simple as possible.