Richard Seguin: A Visual Teacher

March 5, 2008
Rich Seguin writes whole manuals with no complete sentences.

Rich Seguin writes whole manuals with no complete sentences. A 37-year-veteran of the utility industry, he has always been a “picture person.” That’s how he teaches his courses as well.

“I think my time has come from the teaching standpoint—I’m a big believer in visualization and pictures,” Seguin said. “I can quickly grab a screenshot and literally transfer that knowledge to a student in whatever language he speaks in a nanosecond.”

Seguin’s teaching style fits his topic well; he teaches how to successfully integrate distributed generation into the planning and operational process and how to use his company’s distribution modeling program.

He is currently utility system modeling engineer at Electric Distribution Design Inc. EDD developed the Distributed Engineering Workstation power system modeling program.

The teaching style works. He said that he has people using the software in about a day.

“These young people type faster than I read. They were born with mice in their hands, so it doesn’t take long for them to be up and running,” Seguin said.

He also wants students to learn to think for themselves. “It’s not just about teaching them, but it’s inviting them into the problem to come up with their own solution, not just replicating your methods.”

Seguin’s methods, however, may be pretty good ones to try to replicate. He worked at Detroit Edison for 36 years in the area of electric system planning, design and operation. He has championed several engineering applications of new technologies for the electrical system planning and operations areas with a focus on customer power quality and capital use. Examples of these include soft switching, portable capacitors, portable transformer oil coolers, and implementation of EDD’s DEW software as Detroit Edison’s modeling tool.

He also championed the integration of Distributed Resources into the planning and operation process as an alternative to traditional stick and wire, installing 12 DERs since 2002, three intentionally islanded. He was lead writer of EPRI Best Practices Guide Book for Integration of DER into the Utility System Planning. He led the DOE DER Aggregation, Communication, Control, and Sale into the MISO Market using DEW, PI, and utility-aggregator business model for DTE.

“I’ve been an advocate of change my entire life,” he said. “I’m one of those guys who likes new stuff.”

Seguin took early retirement in 2006, then joined EDD to manage the three-year DOE Advanced DER Integration and Intentional Islanding Project for Detroit Edison. The project includes building a system model of the entire Detroit Edison system. This large 3 million-plus node model will be used to analyze and quantify the benefits of all known customer DER for energy, capacity, and reliability to the T&D system as well as the generation system.

He also works on large scale models for the U.S. Army, Consolidated Edison and other utilities. For the Army he is involved in modeling critical infrastructure at Fort Drum in upper New York State. For Con Ed he collaborates with EDD's New York office on distributed processing of large scale models such as the one we are building of the Detroit Edison system.

“In the utility industry, we’re on the cusp of a lot of new and wonderful changes—major changes in its philosophy on ways to modernize the grid,” Seguin said. “And I want to be a part of that process.”

He is a part of that process in more ways than one: by directly participating in the research and by teaching younger engineers how to succeed in solving problems.

He compared working with younger people to going salmon fishing, which he does in the summer. “It’s like taking some of the young people fishing. They’ll catch a big fish and be really excited about it. You know what, I don’t mind that—them catching a big fish. I feel like I taught them to catch that fish; I don’t feel like I should have caught that fish. It’s the same way in your professional career. You are glad they are taking what you gave and carrying it further.”

Besides fishing, Seguin and his wife Vit snow ski in the winter and try to stay fit by exercising daily. They also do ballroom dancing for fun and exercise. (They enjoy “Dancing with the Stars”). They like to hike and have hiked places from the Smoky Mountains to Hawaii to Alaska.

Seguin himself is an avid handball player. "It is a great sport for life," he said.

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