Two electrical engineering students receive prestigious GCPA scholarships

Two students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University have received the prestigious Gulf Coast Power Association Scholarship.

Richard H. Douglin and Tania Oritseweyinmi Okotie receiving awardsRichard H. Douglin and Tania Oritseweyinmi Okotie received their awards during a ceremony earlier this month. Both students are in a research group headed by Dr. Karen Butler-Purry, professor and associate vice president for graduate studies. Qualifications for the award include an interest in the power generation industry and a commitment to work in that industry and a good GPR.

Douglin is from Trinidad and Tobago. He completed his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering at Prairie View A&M University in December 2007. Currently he is pursuing his Master of Science at Texas A&M. Douglin is a research assistant in the Power System Automation Laboratory under the supervision of Butler-Purry, conducting research on the protection techniques of Smart Distribution Systems. He has had several internships that have enabled him to apply the knowledge that he has gained in academia to the power industry and feels his unparalleled work ethic and exceptional achievements have allowed him the scholarship opportunity offered by the GCPA.

Okotie is originally from Nigeria and came to United States as a young child. Her interest in engineering began as a young child and she began her path as an engineer by taking a special interest in math and science courses. Excellence in these courses gave her the opportunity to be part of an engineering program that emphasized the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Upon graduating from high school, Okotie chose to go to Texas A&M because of its reputable engineering program. Currently Okotie is an undergraduate student specializing in power and energy. She also is part of an undergraduate research program, which gave her the opportunity to conduct research under Butler-Purry in the Power Systems Automation Lab. She believes the power and energy industry is lifeblood of the economy. At Texas A&M Okotie has accomplished much as she takes advantage of opportunities that would give her the knowledge and resources she desires to make a change in her society since she feels "change is growth."

The GCPA scholarship was initiated in 2007 from a desire to attract and support young people who had indicated an interest in the electric power industry in their pursuit of higher education. In 2008, following the death of GCPA's founding Executive Director, David Olver, the scholarship fund was renamed in his memory as the GCPA-David Olver Memorial Scholarship Program.

The association was formed in Houston in 1983 as the Gulf Coast Cogeneration Association, by a handful of individuals from development companies and suppliers of goods and services involved in the new industry spawned by passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (PURPA). Since then, Association membership has increased steadily, both in numbers and in the diversity of industry segments represented, until now with 35 corporate members and around 220 individual members, it embraces virtually every aspect of the electric power industry.

In 1994, the board recognized that its members' interests had broadened beyond just U.S. cogeneration, to include power production, delivery and marketing of competitive electric energy supplies worldwide, using a variety of energy sources. The name of the association was changed officially in 1995, although "Gulf Coast" was retained to reflect the home base of the organization and to maintain name recognition. The association's focus was expanded and re-directed on the basis of the mission statement and objectives.

Photo contributed by Barbara Schott