Q&A with Konstantin Bulgakov
BS in Mechanical Engineering, 2003—Michigan Tech
MS in Mechanical Engineering, 2006—Michigan Tech
Current position: Wind Turbine Drivetrain Test and Development Engineer for Clemson University Restoration Institute, Clemson, South Carolina
Q: What was the focus of your graduate research?
A: I completed the design (mechanical and controls) o f a fully operational, geometrically scaled version of the US Navy's ship crane with differential tagline control. Large Navy crane ships are affected by seas and also by the natural pendulum sway induced by moving the load. Reducing pendulations of the cargo while suspended by the cables of the crane can make a big impact in productivity. (Slide with pictures included)
Q: What was the most challenging aspect?
A: Finding time to do everything (multitasking)—writing a thesis, taking classes, and holding a TA position all at the same time.
Q: What was the best part about the experience?
A: Hands-on work—both in the laboratory and while traveling to gather real data on ship cranes—as well as experiencing a product coming to life, starting with conceptual ideas, followed by design, building a prototype, and testing. And last but not least, exposure to and working with real companies.
Q: What are you doing now that you’ve graduated?
A: After working for Cummins Inc. for five years, I have joined the Clemson University Restoration Institute as a wind turbine drivetrain test and development engineer in Charleston, South Carolina. Clemson is in the process of building a facility that will test next-generation wind turbines and drivetrains, will potentially create hundreds of jobs, and may become one of the most important sites for wind-energy research and development in South Carolina. I am very excited to be a part of this newly developed team and part of an industry that will have a huge impact—on both the local area and the environment.
Q: Were there any experiences at Tech that helped with your current success?
A: Close relationships with my professors and especially my advisor made a great impact. My advisor is still my mentor at present. Also of great value to me: teamwork, multitasking, and time-management skills, and exposure to companies through the Michigan Tech Career Fair. I was able to get two co-op experiences before graduating from Michigan Tech. Last but not least, the chance to learn, research, and work hard to reach my goals.
Q: Did your time in graduate school change (or shape) your life, and if so, how?
A: I would say YES. It made me set my career goals higher and eventually find what I would call my dream job in the field of alternative energy. Having a graduate degree played a major role in my achievement of these goals.
Q: What advice would you give to first-year graduate students?
A: Don’t be afraid to try new things, no matter how unreal they might sound. Get exposure to companies in your area(s) of research. If possible, get a co-op/internship experience.