Reef Industries

Women in Power: Sahar Hendabadi

IMG_9788My name is Sahar Hendabadi and I work at ComEd as a Senior Project Manager in the Smart Grid and Technology Department. ComEd is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation and one of the nation’s largest electric utilities responsible for maintaining more than 78,000 miles of power lines that make up the electric transmission and distribution system in Northern Illinois. I am mainly focused on the vision and strategy of Community of the Future, a project outlining ComEd’s execution strategy for potential smart city technologies such as Microgrid, Electric Vehicle charging stations and integration of Sustainable Energy resources within a defined community.

I have not lived my whole life in the US though. I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. I graduated with a B.Sc. degree from University of Tehran and a M.Sc. from Sharif university of Technology both in Mechanical Engineering concentrating on Thermal Science. Right after graduation, I started working as a project engineer in Petropars, a leading company in Iran’s Oil and Gas industry. Pertopars specializes as a developer of exploration, exploitation and production in upstream projects and is involved in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) activities as well as installation of facilities. As a member of the core engineering team, I was involved with several projects including the installation of fixed equipment is South Pars phases 6, 7 and 8 project, revamping of the off-shore pipeline for South Pars phase 1 project and also had the opportunity to lead some R&D projects in collaboration with academia. I worked at Petropars for 3 years.

In September 2008, I moved to the US to pursue my PhD at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Interestingly, the topic that I chose for my PhD thesis had nothing to do with the work that I had done up to that point in my life. It was the study of blood flow transport in human left ventricle using dynamical system theory, a combination of bioengineering and mathematics. The outcomes of my research were presented in 10 journal and conference publications.

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After receiving my PhD in Dec 2013, my strong passion for teaching made me accept two offers; a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Valparaiso University in Indiana and an Adjunct Faculty position at Illinois institute of Technology. I taught a wide range of courses in Mechanical Engineering including all thermal energy courses, fluid mechanics and even engineering design and computer programming for almost two years, until I heard the power and energy industry calling my name. I am an active member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), ASME Bioengineering, American Physical Society (APS) and I have recently joined IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES). You can say that my background is in a wide range of fields but I have always been very passionate about renewable energy and smart city developments and Smart Grid and Technology is where I could get something done in this field.

I learnt about PES Women in Power (WiP) last year after meeting a couple of its active members in Chicago. This global organization has pulled together a Leadership Advisory Committee of men and women with diverse and impressive cultures and backgrounds whose stories and positions in the industry inspires you to be a better professional and achieve higher goals through a lot of hard work. Also, joining WiP would let you use their resources in supporting the career advancement, networking and education of women in the energy industry to boost your career and get recognized as a potential leader. I have recently been assigned as the director of media for WiP hoping that we can take our social media accounts to a next level.

I like to do a lot of outdoor activities in my free time, depending on the season you might find me biking on Chicago’s lakefront path, skiing in one the nearby ski resorts or scuba diving wherever I find warm waters. I also love to travel! But, I think one of the coolest things that I started in the US was running long distance races. I used to run on the treadmill in Iran but I had never participated in a race. I ran Chicago half marathon as my first race in September 2009 and later in January 2011 changed gears towards marathon training, Four months later I finished Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon as my first 26.2 mile journey. Since then I have never been able to stop. I combined my passion for travelling and running and over the past 5 years I have crossed the finish line of around 95 races including 38 half marathons and 33 marathons in 19 different States which has made me a member of the 50 States Club, Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics. I also ran Berlin Marathon this past summer as my first marathon outside US. So I am a Woman in Power, physically and professionally, and I invite you to be one!

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