Stephen Fatokun is working on ways to keep the electrical power grid secure and reliable. He is pursuing a doctorate through the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute Bredesen Center’s Energy Science and Engineering program.
“Electricity, unlike other commodities, cannot be stored economically for later use but must be available whenever it is needed and in the right quantity,” he said. “My research focuses on finding faster methods and tools for scheduling the right combination of generators and other grid resources for the safe and continuous running of the electrical power grid.”
Fatokun does research at the Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT). He is also interning at Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
His career plan is to work at a power utility company “where I can apply my theoretical knowledge to real-world problems” and gain experience. Eventually he wants to bring those industry-acquired skills back to academia.
Fatokun said he grew up in Nigeria where he learned first-hand how important electricity is—and how challenging it is to live without it.
“I wanted to make energy more accessible,” he said
He earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering physics at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria and then set out to further his education.
“I did some research and concluded that the U.S. is the best place for me to achieve this dream,” he said. “I chose UT because it has the best program in energy.”
Besides working on his PhD, Fatokun, who is now an American citizen, serves in the U.S. Army Reserves as a tactical power generation specialist where he helps “maintain power generators and keep the lights on during military operations.”
In his spare time, Fatokun enjoys watching sports, playing soccer and biking with his wife and two kids.