Student Q&A: Arthur Santos

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Arthur Santos standing in front of a mountain lake
Arthur Santos, a systems engineering Ph.D. student, researches the efficiency of AC v. DC distribution systems. Photo credit: Arthur Santos

Arthur Santos is in his last year of his Ph.D. program in the systems engineering department. He earned his BSEE from CEFET-MG in Belo Horizonte, his hometown in Brazil. He earned his master’s in electrical and computer engineering here at CSU. 

His Ph.D. research, which focuses on the efficiency of AC v. DC distribution systems in commercial buildings, has been a continuation of the work he started during his master’s program.

Where do you call home?

The concept of home for me is strongly connected to my affective bonds. I would say I have two now: one here in Fort Collins and the other is my parents’ house.

What is your research area? What drew you to this research area?

During my PhD, I am continuing the research I started in the master’s degree, that concerns the efficiency of AC vs. DC distribution systems in commercial buildings. I’ve been working on a project called the DC Design Tool [link: https://github.com/NREL/BEEAM], funded by the Department of Energy.

This project aims to analyze possible energy savings when miscellaneous electric loads, which usually operate in internally DC, are connected to DC distribution systems rather than the conventional AC with their AC/DC adapters.

My focus is on device characterization, harmonics cancellation, and endpoint use efficiency comparison. I have also had the opportunity to work with battery modeling and do some research on remote and distributed energy systems.

My advisors are Daniel Zimmerle and Dr. Peter Young. 

What drew you to study systems engineering?

During my master’s degree, my advisor gave me the opportunity to spend some time in Rwanda and participate in some electrification projects there, and I believe this is when I started to become more interested.

In one of the projects, we had to refurbish a micro-hydropower system that stopped working for the past two years, and it was the only electricity source for an entire village located in the southwestern part of the country. There, it was important to know the engineering behind the operation of the generator so it could be fixed, but there were also other aspects equally crucial that need to be observed to keep the system running the maximum period possible, given the difficulty of access and the lack of technical support.

That involved the risks in keeping that solution, studying possible alternatives, the operational costs, the business needs, and analyzing other local limitations. Since then, I learned the importance of Systems Engineering managing real-world issues, and I wanted to go deeper into the subject.

Any advice for new SE Ph.D. students?

I would say to always be open to new opportunities, even if you have your personal preferences. By seizing the opportunity that I had when I started grad school, I was able to learn things that I never imagined I would be interested in and to meet people who changed my life.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working/in class?

It was always fun to have friends over or go out for a beer before the pandemic started. Besides, I enjoy traveling whenever is possible and exploring the outdoor activities in beautiful Colorado.

Who inspires you?

I am easily inspired by genuine people. Sincerity, generosity, open-mindedness, and emotional authenticity are very motivational to me. 

What’s a fun fact about you people may not know?

I lived in Italy for almost a year to recognize my dual citizenship. I paid for the whole trip selling t-shirts online with a micro-company I spent $50 to create.