A passion for power systems

Power outages during childhood inspires CMU-Africa student to pursue power system solutions

Hope Reveche

Nov 28, 2023

Growing up in Zimbabwe, Marshal Ruzvidzo ('24 MS ECE) would often experience power outages that lasted hours at a time. "I always wondered, 'Why don’t we have enough electricity when we are paying so much for it?'" he says. Wanting to answer this question, he became passionate about electrical engineering and power systems. Now, he is completing his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering in the advanced studies program at CMU-Africa where he has the opportunity to explore his interest in power system optimization.

This semester, he is studying at the CMU-Pittsburgh campus through CMU-Africa’s global campus exchange program. After taking introductory courses in power systems in Kigali, he is now completing more research-based projects in Pittsburgh. "Right now, I am collaborating with a Ph.D. student in Professor Larry Pileggi’s research group under the supervision of Professor Barry Rawn. My contribution is to track and optimize technical losses in the distribution grids. This can help African utility companies increase their efficiency and capacity as well as reduce costs," he says. In the future, Marshal hopes to continue doing research and leverage his skills to influence technology and policy that enable smooth integration of renewable energy sources into the grid. This will enhance the resiliency and reliability of power grids to supply clean and affordable electricity, which aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7.

Student standing on campus

Marshal standing outside the new Scaife Hall on CMU's Pittsburgh campus.

One thing that excites Marshal about his studies in Pittsburgh is the amount of academic opportunities available and the learning environment. "For example, I had an option to choose optimization courses from different departments like Machine Learning or Engineering and Public Policy depending on whether I was interested in the mathematical formulation of optimization or the application aspect of it. Additionally, in the lab, I get to interact with people who are passionate and demonstrate a rigorous approach to their work, and that inspires me," he says.

Outside of class, Marshal has also been impressed with the many extracurricular activities, sporting facilities, and off-campus attractions. He attends many club events to have the chance to interact with different groups of people, some specifically being the National Society of Black Engineers and CMU Racing club. "Besides academics, Pittsburgh is surrounded by a lot of diverse cuisines (Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Korean, etc.) so I get to taste different kinds of food. I also like that there are a lot of museums and parks that one can explore," he says. Overall, the collaborative and welcoming spirit of CMU and Pittsburgh in general has been a highlight of Marshal’s study abroad experience.