Bogdan Kasztenny: Applying Common Sense

May 3, 2012
During the course of his career as principal systems engineer at SEL, Bogdan Kasztenny has written and reviewed hundreds of technical papers and served on numerous program committees for electric power conferences, most recently, the Western Protective Relay Conference.

During the course of his career as principal systems engineer at SEL, Bogdan Kasztenny has written and reviewed hundreds of technical papers and served on numerous program committees for electric power conferences: most recently, the Western Protective Relay Conference. Because of his impressive experience and insight, Kasztenny was highly sought after to be one of the speakers at the SEL inaugural Modern Solutions Power Systems Conference (MSPSC), June 6–8, 2012, in Chicago. Since the conference’s inception, Kasztenny has played a central role in its development.

Kasztenny has made significant contributions to the power industry by writing, attending conferences, delivering seminars, and teaching at universities. He has more than 15 years of experience designing, supporting, and troubleshooting line protection relays. This includes numerous applications and various types of protection.

“Considering that SEL’s roots go back to line distance protection as the first product to start and sustain the company,” said Kasztenny, “I consider it an honor to cover this particular topic at the first MSPSC.” Kasztenny will present, Advancements in Line Protection, as part of the Technical Focus sessions.

Kasztenny earned his master’s of science with honors in electrical engineering, and his PhD, also with honors, from Wroclaw University of Technology (WUT), which is ranked among the top three universities in Poland. “Through a coincidence of timing and circumstances,” he says, “it happened to be exceptionally focus

During the 1980s, when the microprocessor-based protection field was just emerging, Kasztenny considered himself fortunate to have the opportunity to attend in-depth lectures on the topic. These experiences helped him develop a keen interest in protection and control, and he chose that field for his master’s program. Kasztenny was interested in decision-making logic in microprocessor-based protection relays, which ultimately became his PhD thesis. Since then, Kasztenny has remained focused and dedicated to this special field through his work with relay design and teaching.

Kasztenny believes that advanced line protection is important “because it looks into the practical, near-term changes in line protection practices. These changes result from the intersection of increased power system needs and the availability of affordable long-haul communications. High-speed digital communications channels are key enablers of better and simpler line protection, reducing engineering efforts and lowering the risk of miscoordination.”

Power system protection is a demanding field. With the constant expectation to create faster, more sensitive, and simpler protection, comes increased potential for misoperations, creating a potential for blackouts, out-of-service assets, and lost user confidence. According to Kasztenny, this tension between innovation and reliability keeps the job interesting.

New communications technologies also keep things exciting by expanding our horizons and creating opportunities. However, says Kasztenny, we must accomplish this safely without eroding user confidence or slowing the initial momentum of any innovative technology.

What does Kasztenny like most about his job? Designing bigger and more complex systems, collaborating with very bright coworkers and end users, and using the many lessons he has learned during his career. What are those lessons? Always practice the basic principles. Stay focused. Apply common sense. Be humble.

“First, basic principles and a good grasp of fundamentals allow engineers to navigate their way through a long career, despite new developments. Focus allows them to excel and become real experts.”

“Too often, younger engineers hedge their bets by trying to cover a lot of ground, or switch from one area to another depending on the newest buzz word in the industry.," he said. "If one works on complex problems or systems, it’s even more important to use common sense. We need to ask ourselves questions like, 'What purpose are we serving? What problem are we solving? Is this going to make things easier for the customer? Is this more cost efficient?' Too often we forget to ask these questions when working on new or trendy technologies.”

Kasztenny believes that being a protection engineer keeps one humble. “No matter how smart the algorithm, how robust the product, how good the user training and application support, things happen unexpectedly. These are great opportunities to learn and improve.”

In his free time when Kasztenny isn’t helping to create new events like SEL’s Modern Solutions Power Systems Conference, he likes to stay physically active. Living a healthy lifestyle is his “tool to productivity and creativity.”

To learn more about or to register for the SEL Modern Solutions Power Systems conference, visit

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!