Gary Kobet has been an Adjunct Faculty in the Electrical Engineering Department since 2009. He’s been with TVA for 32 years. How did he get there?
“My first interview with TVA was actually very relaxed. Part of the interview was a tour of a 500kV substation. Up until that point I wasn’t sure exactly what branch of electrical engineering I wanted to specialize in. Once I saw the substation, I was hooked and have been ever since.
I started as a field test engineer, first in substations, then in a coal-fired power plant. After that, I moved to the central staff where I have been power quality engineer, protection engineer, operating engineer. I tried supervision once for about a year and it was NOT for me! The company needs engineers who are purely technical and who really know how a power system operates. That’s where I belong, in operations.”
What was your first job?
GK: My first full-time job was with TVA. I started January 1990 just after I graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in December 1989.
What would you like us to know about Electrical Engineering that we may not know or think of?
GK: Electrical engineering is a very broad field. Just because someone has an EE degree does not mean they know all things electrical. I have learned a good bit about power systems, but I couldn’t design a transistor circuit now if I had to!
What has been your favorite thing about your career so far?
GK: That I have been allowed to learn as I go. My company has been very gracious and allowed me to delve into nearly any power system topic I have been interested in. And TVA is a big company with transmission, generation, even some distribution equipment. I have been blessed to study on a real-life 30,000MW power system, which I think is fantastic.
Tell us a bit more about you that we may not already know.
GK: I have been married to Jacquelyn for 34 years. We have two children, Deanna 28 and Jack 23. Both are married and live in the Chattanooga area. Deanna had our first grandchild, Charlotte, this past July.
As for what I do in my spare time, I don’t have much since I work full time for TVA and as part-time adjunct professor. It may sound strange but my job is also my hobby: Studying/learning about electric power systems. But I also enjoy Bible study. I am a football and baseball fan. I am originally from the Pittsburgh area so I’m a Steelers and Pirates fan. I also follow college football and support Tennessee and Alabama. A favorite restaurant my wife and I like is Chuy’s. My friends would describe me as someone who likes to laugh! I’ve been told my whole life is a joke (Three Stooges, Looney Tunes, etc) 😉
What’s the most interesting thing you are working on right now?
GK: TVA is soon to commission a static var compensator connected to our 500kV system, and I will be involved in its operation as well as training our dispatchers on how it works.
What advice would you give to someone in their 20s?
GK: I can’t remember where I heard this, but I remember someone saying: “find something you love to do and figure out how to get paid for it, and you’ll never work a day in your life”. That has been true for me. When I was 22 years old and about to graduate from UAH, I took a course in power systems – and I have been hooked ever since. And my employment with TVA has afforded me the opportunity to spend my career studying a real-world power system.
Thank you, Gary, for your commitment to teaching and your contributions through your work at TVA.
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