T&D World Magazine

David Harris: Transformer Trainer

Even as many U.S. transformer suppliers have diminished their technical support for training customers’ engineers and operating personnel, David Harris at Waukesha Electric Systems stresses that training is necessary, particularly right now, as new technologies are developed for the smart grid and other enhancements.

Harris started at Waukesha Electronics as a transformer design engineer in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and works with engineers at utilities to provide information regarding design and operations of their substation transformers. He instructs Waukesha’s customers, presents sessions and seminars, and writes white papers.

“The industry is changing at a faster rate than ever before,” Harris said. “As work forces have been trimmed, the tradition of mentoring young engineers has suffered. Transferring from the academic discipline of college to the practical use of an engineering degree at a utility or manufacturer requires a knowledge of the industry standards and operation of the U.S. utility system.”

Harris gives engineers insight into the specification, design and operation of critical components of their utility’s operation and encourages participation in IEEE standards devolvement. He is active in the IEEE Substations Committee and IEEE Transformers Committee, which allows him to share his knowledge of the current standards and the development of these standards as part of training.

Other experience that Harris draws on for instruction includes his time at Allis Chalmers as a project engineer for iron ore and phosphate processing plants. “Then when I changed and started working at Waukesha Electric (then RTE and RTE-ASEA), the experience at Allis Chalmers provided me with a background as a customer and as a user of substation power transformers from the purchaser's prospective. I also had field experience in plant start-up and troubleshooting and provided some field service support early in my career at Waukesha Electric,” Harris said.

He has presented at previous IEEE PES T&D conferences, IEEE Industrial Applications conferences, Doble Life of a Transformer and the Doble Client Conferences, T&D World University, NRECA and Rural Electric Power conferences. Waukesha Electric also provides Regional Technical Conferences through out the United States and a Design Engineering Conference at their Waukesha and Goldsboro twice yearly.

His next project is co-author of a paper and presentation with Rick Ladroga at the Doble Client Conference on March 25. The paper, De-Energized Tap Changer Use in Transformers, will seek to identify the logic used to determine the actual need of a DETC in various applications. The paper will also present survey results that identify historical use, operations, maintenance, and trouble/failure issues.

Harris is always open for questions during training, and he said that it’s important to be honest. “I can't know every aspect of design and operation of a transformer and its application on the utility substation. When I can't answer a question, I acknowledge that fact and offer to find the answer and respond to the questioner by e-mail or phone with a complete response,” he said.

Harris does know many of the answers, however, with his background in substation design. But he originally got into electrical engineering because he loved math. “In grade school and high school, I always enjoyed mathematics and wanted a career that would allow me to use that.”

He said that he enjoys preparing presentations. “Learning never stops. I personally benefit from the research I do to prepare for a seminar or session,” he said.

Harris and his wife, Joyce, enjoy spending time with their 3 children and 8 grandchildren for family celebrations and holidays. He likes to golf and read when he’s not researching and training, and particularly enjoys history and historical novels.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.