Wes Fermanich charges ahead to help energize the energy storage and renewable energy fields

For Wes Fermanich, one of the biggest takeaways from his ISD education was learning how to break down a large, complex system into smaller components. 

This key and integrative skill within the field of systems engineering is known as functional decomposition, which entails breaking down a system into its pieces and then evaluating the interactions between these pieces to see how they contribute to the overall goal of the system. 

“Learning this skill has allowed me to approach any engineering project I encounter from a much more logical sense than I had previously by focusing on understanding the interactions of all the components within a system,” said Fermanich, 22, who graduated from ISD in December 2021 with a M.Eng. in Energy Systems Engineering.

Sold on Solar

Fermanich credits ISD for helping him land a full-time job recently as a design engineer for Nexamp, a solar development company. In this new role, he is designing solar farms for community solar projects.

“I am approaching this work from a systems engineering viewpoint because of the many parts required for the process, such as meteorological analysis, geotechnical site analysis, power line interconnection, solar panel performance specifications, inverter performance specs, and many more,” he said. “All of these steps have an impact on other steps and being able to think through the process of how these interact will serve me well.”

U-M Grad X 2

Before joining ISD, Fermanich graduated as part of U-M’s SUGS program in April 2021 with a BSE in Materials Science and Engineering. SUGS stands for Sequential Undergraduate/Graduate Studies. The program was created to offer high-achieving students an opportunity to complete an undergraduate degree and master’s requirements as part of a seamless program of five years at U-M. 

As an undergraduate student, he served as an executive board member of the Michigan Energy Club and he worked for the Kwabi Lab in U-M’s Mechanical Engineering department where his independent research project focused on photo-assisted flow battery charging. He also designed laboratory procedures for forming and testing of dye-sensitized solar cells to measure their solar conversion efficiencies when exposed to replicated sunlight, and constructed and designed an original flow cell that allows for direct implementation of solar cells to drive photo-assisted reactions. His senior project was investigating mechanical properties of lithium ion batteries working with GM as a sponsor.

“I was really impressed with U-M’s facilities, resources, research and extracurricular activities,” he said. 

Saving Energy

Throughout his professional career, Fermanich intends to expend a lot of energy on renewable energy. 

“Batteries are a key component of the ongoing transition to renewable energy,” he said. “I am interested in battery research and development and project engineering for companies that develop renewable energy like solar and wind farms. My goal is having a pivotal role in constructing an energy storage or solar or wind farm. I want to become an expert in renewable energy or battery technology as a consultant or manager, living in a different country, and possibly ending up back in Wisconsin.”