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Edward LaVerne Owen

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Biography

For more than 35 years, Edward L. Owen has been a leading researcher, teacher and advisor in the development and application of motors for rotating machines. Since joining General Electric (GE) Company in 1962, he has set a new standard for their analysis and evaluation.

Mr. Owen’s work in developing new evaluation techniques for equipment is credited with averting catastrophic mechanical failures. In the 1960s, there were a number of devastating failures in mining and cement equipment. In the 1970s, he significantly advanced understanding of machine winding insulation and helped to develop standards with important implications for motors and generators. In the 1980s, he facilitated consensus between manufacturers and users on the requirements for rotating machines.

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, GE sought ways to reduce energy consumption by improving electric motors and drives. Key to achieving this objective was obtaining massive conversion from traditional constant-speed motors to newer adjustable-speed drives. Design and application practices were in turmoil and Owen’s 1981 watershed paper on Load Commutated Inverter (LCI) for synchronous motor drives solved the design conflicts. He wrote that to obtain the best performance and reliability, the motor and electronics had to be treated as a system, each specifically designed to work with the other. Even after 20 years of power electronics evolution, this concept has remained the conventional wisdom.

Mr. Owen now serves as a consulting engineer to GE and others in the industry, focusing mainly on power conversion and forensic investigations into major failures.

Edward L. Owen was born 3 July 1940, in Polk County, Mo. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963.

A Senior Member of the IEEE and past chairman and historian of the IEEE chapter in Schenectady, N.Y., Mr. Owen is the chairman of the Schenectady chapter of the Industry Application Society, past vice-chairman of the Schenectady chapter of the New York Society of Engineers and member of the Schenectady Hall of History Foundation Board of Trustees. He has served on numerous boards and committees of the Power Engineering Society and the Industry Application Society. He has written more than a dozen published papers, two of which earned prize paper awards.