T&D World Magazine
Philip Lim

Philip Lim: Helping Students Succeed in Life

Philip Lim, adjunct professor at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, loves to help students succeed: in engineering and in life as a whole. Lim, also manager of electric substation engineering operations at Memphis Light, Gas & Water, teaches two senior/graduate levels electrical engineering courses in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the university.

“I believe if they are successful in my classroom, this will help them build self-esteem to tackle life’s challenges,” Lim said.

His teaching philosophy is simple: set expectations for students during the first classroom session and stay engaged with the students.  In addition, Lim helps students learn the new materials quickly by presenting new concepts in a simple and concise way that they can relate to the materials based on current and new knowledge. 

“One of my mentors used to say to me, ‘you can’t take credit for you’re A-grade students and you can’t take blame for your D-grade students.  However, you can take credit for those students whom you have helped to move them from a C to a B grade,’” Lim said.

As a teacher, Lim immediately motivates students to stay engaged and to do their homework assignments diligently. “This helps to reinforce the new engineering principle and concepts in each of the course materials,” he said. “Never take for granted the value of practices and examples.”

Lim teaches an electrical power systems analysis course at University of Memphis that is designed to give students the ability to analyze and to evaluate the performance of electrical power systems from the transmission standpoints.  Students are introduced to various types of faults studies, protection schemes, power flow analysis, etc.  His second course is electrical power distribution systems engineering analysis.  This course is designed to introduce students to electrical distribution engineering with the emphasis on solving real-world problems using engineering tools and methods.  Students are introduced to per-unit systems, distribution transformer connections, voltage drop calculations, distribution systems faults studies, and protection philosophy.

“Electric power systems analysis is an introductory course to the electric power systems.  The tools and techniques learned in the course will help students understand and demonstrate the mastery of the subject matter,” Lim said. “This course will give students the edge to compete successfully for a job in the electric utilities industry and consulting business in the area of designing electrical power systems from transmission to distribution of electrical power to serve the customer’s electrical loads.  This course is becoming even more critical for the success of electric utilities given the fact that not many ABET-accredited engineering colleges are offering power systems as one of the majors for students.”

Lim has also taught Electro-mechanical Energy Conversion and Electric Power Quality courses. Due to his MBA background and successful leadership track record, Union University at Germantown, Tennessee (a private university) has invited him back several times to teach the Organization Research and Planning (Strategic Management) course for its Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership program.  He also helped write and implement the project management module for Union University at Germantown.  Lim will be teaching for Union University’s project management program in April and July 2014 covering two courses – Engineering Economy and Environmental Management courses.

Lim’s present position as manager of electric substation engineering and operations has given him a greater opportunity to integrate real-world examples in the classroom.  Students are exposed to greater details in the operational aspects of the course materials.  Lim’s 25 years of direct electrical engineering experience, starting as an entry-level electrical engineer right after college and progressing through the utility industry both internally and externally, have provided him with many practical examples to share with students in the classroom lectures and design projects.  His experience with serving on and contributing to the IEEE technical committees has also provided valuable perspective for teaching both courses relating to real-world problems.

Lim has always thrived on new challenges from the time he was nine years old and one of his neighbors got him interested in doing electronic work.  He said his neighbor made his living repairing radio, television, and electronic equipment.  He has always been fascinated with the functioning of vacuum tubes radio and television. 

“Since that time, I wanted to learn to repair radio and television when I grew up.  It was not until I completed high school did I have a chance to enroll in a vocational technical junior college to study electronic and electrical technology,” Lim said.

After graduation, he went to work for the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore as an electronic technician repairing telephone and communication equipment.  One event led to another, and later (1984) he came to the United States to pursue his electrical engineering degree at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK), Tennessee.  During his senior year at UTK, one of his professors recommended him to work with a group of scientists in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, supporting their research work as an electronic technician. He was later recruited by Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division (MLGW) to start as an entry-level electrical engineer in December 1988. 

Recently promoted to manager to the Electric Substation Engineering and Operations (ESEO), he said has had the privilege to work with “some of the most exciting and highly skilled technical group of people who take personal responsibility for doing a good job designing, building, and maintaining our electric transmission and substation systems to ensure that our customers’ electrical needs are met safely, reliably, and cost effectively every day.  They are fun and passionate about their work,” Lim said.

Although Lim thrives on new challenges, he also enjoys studying and reading about old challenges. He reads old engineering and leadership textbooks during his spare time. 

“I am always fascinated by how things are studied and done prior to World War II and after in the world.  For instance, it is interesting to know that many engineering problems could not be solved due to no ‘high’ computing machines.  We are able to overcome that with our modern technological advancement in computers.”

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