Arthur Pinheiro: ‘Don’t Be Satisfied’

May 16, 2012
The speed of innovation is dramatic, so Arthur Pinheiro says not to be satisfied with your current level of knowledge.

The speed of innovation is dramatic, so Arthur Pinheiro says not to be satisfied with your current level of knowledge. “Keep yourself updated. Don’t stop,” the senior manager, consulting, at Siemens PTI, said. “Even if your current job does not require innovations, who knows where you will end up tomorrow?”

Pinheiro teaches courses at Siemens Power Technologies International and his professional training and experience includes more than 35 years working in electric utilities, regulatory agencies and consulting companies. He has been heavily involved with all aspects of power system projects in both centralized and competitive wholesale markets for electricity.

Pinheiro will be presenting PSS®E – Dynamic Simulation for Siemens PTI Aug. 20-24 at Siemens Power Academy, Mountain View, California. The course looks at different types of disturbances that can cause a system to behave in certain ways. Do you know how to analyze your system response by running a dynamic simulation? If not, this course will help you understand how your power flow indicates your system status in steady state and how dynamic simulation tells you how your system transitions from one status state to another. This course covers data development and input for dynamics, initial system setup and checkout, running dynamic simulations, plotting results and more. This course requires previous knowledge of PSS®E, as it is fast-paced and includes hands-on exercises using PSS®E.

“We are living in economic restriction times and in a very competitive energy market. It is a jungle outside, and one has to have the most powerful tools and the best technologies to solve the power system problems and save money for the utilities, developers, etc. At the end of the day, it is also beneficial for the consumers,” Pinheiro said. “If an engineer is able to simulate a critical disturbance of his company’s system, correctly get results and interpret them, likely he will foresee and think in mitigations that do not necessarily mean expensive equipment. Sometimes simple and cheap measures can nicely solve the problem.”

Pinheiro has mostly presented courses dealing with Siemens PTI’s proprietary main computational simulation tool, PSS®E. However, on five occasions, he has presented tailored courses for companies that have manifested special interests and requirements.

In Siemens PTI standard courses, Pinheiro introduces aspects of steady state, dynamics and short circuit analysis and perform hands-on exercises, with simulations in a crescent scale of complexity. He supports those course activities with bits and pieces of the respective concepts so the student can bridge theory and practice. Typical simulations related to the day-by-day activities of power system engineers are performed so he tries to pave the way for them. When back to their offices, most of the time they can perform work simulations in a self-sufficient manner.

Pinheiro brings his past experience as a utility engineer, consultant, and 28-year college professor to the courses. “I can manage the speed and depth of the lectures, make adaptations, change exercises to fulfill some of the student interests and recognize the main issues of operations and planning of power systems. With the advent of renewable, new technologies, models and tools developed by Siemens PTI are brought to the students in new courses,” he said.

Not only does he remind students to keep themselves updated, he also warns them to avoid what he calls the presumption of immediate understanding.

“The fact that one engineer excels in getting simulation results of the power system phenomena, does not necessarily mean that he is able to understand the results and/or the phenomena,” Pinheiro said. “Some of the subjects in power systems need intense study and the experience and skills come from years of working with such matters.”

He encourages a lot of questions in his classroom as well. “When you present a subject, the students are thinking the same subject in different ways and trying to make connections with their knowledge and past experiences,” Pinheiro said. “This is an individual, very productive, and complex process, and if the instructor inhibits or creates barriers for questions, he is missing a nice opportunity of being really useful to the students, or even learning a new approach for an old subject.”

Pinheiro started out his career with questions and curiosity about technical subjects, which lead him to electric energy. When he was finishing the Military High School in Brazil, the subject of his year-end project was electrical energy: generation, transmission and distribution.

“In the end of 60s, Internet was not as we know it. Therefore, the information was inexistent, sparse or very technical, considering the level of engineering knowledge of a high school student,” Pinheiro said.

After long research on what was available, and also to get more subsidies for the project, his team visited a control center, “a big hydro plant at that time (1200 MW), and had conversations with engineers of two utilities. At the end of the project (by the way, we got A+!), I was fascinated by the complexity and technology of a power system. The idea of being an electrical engineer was born.”

At that time, he said, the discussions about the Itaipu Project (12,000 MW, AC/DC transmission system) were getting intense, and it was a big incentive to a new engineering student.

He went to the college and after the basic two years, he started attending the electrical engineer course, which gave form and weight to his original idea. He had several training assignments in utilities and started his career as power system engineer in 1972. He had the fortune of working in some of the most important generation and transmission projects in Brazil and South America, including Itaipu.

“After 40 years working as power system engineer and consultant, I still have no regrets related to my choices,” Pinheiro said.

He does need a break once in a while from all the intense work. When he was younger, he practiced competitive jumping horsemanship and soccer.

“Nowadays, reading good books, gardening, cooking, movies and hang out with friends fulfill my spare time. Unless I have some urgent work, I use the spare time doing things not related with my career.”

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