html{display:none} Podcast | Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

Schweitzer Drive

The Schweitzer Drive bimonthly podcast explores what goes on between the generation of electricity and the light switch. In each episode, host Dave Whitehead, CEO of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, talks with the entrepreneurs, innovators, and experts who are inventing the future of electric power. Electricity is so fundamental to our daily lives, and yet it’s something so many take for granted. Come learn about, explore, and celebrate electric power on Schweitzer Drive!

Episode 22

People, Power Density, Cost and Scale: The Challenges of Renewable Energy

At the current growth rate, global energy demand will double in 18 years. Meanwhile, governments are instituting mandates and offering subsidies to speed the move to an all renewable energy future. Nineteen U.S. states have released goals for achieving 100 percent renewable power in the next 20-50 years. While the promise of “clean energy” is appealing, will intermittent sources of energy be able to meet global needs? Join Dave Whitehead as he explores this topic with author Robert Bryce.

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Episode 21

Protecting Critical Cyber Systems: Building a Threat-Aware Network

Ransomware attacks, like the one that temporarily shut down the Colonial Pipeline on May 6, causing fuel shortages in the eastern part of the US., are becoming big business. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks with cybersecurity expert Samantha Madrid about what energy providers, companies, hospitals and others can do to keep ahead of the bad guys.

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Episode 20

Unleashing the Power of Women in STEM

While it’s true that more women are going into STEM fields, their numbers are still lagging—especially in fields like electrical and mechanical engineering. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks with Washington State University’s Dr. Noel Schulz about the numbers, the reasons behind them, and things we can do to improve opportunities for woman—and other underrepresented groups—in technical fields.

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Episode 19

Electricity—Empowering People

It would be difficult to overstate the positive impact of electric power on humanity—from creating and storing food to producing clean water and medicine to manufacturing things that make our lives easier, and the list goes on. Many parts of the world enjoy abundant access to electricity and often take it for granted. However, more than a billion people live without access to this essential resource and the safety and comfort that it provides. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks with David Dolezilek, principal engineer at SEL, about his work to help lower that number.

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Episode 18

It Can't Be That Simple: How Creativity and Simplicity Combine to Create Innovative Solutions

In this episode, inventor and entrepreneur Dr. Ed Schweitzer shares his thoughts on where creativity comes from, how it fuels innovation, and how both benefit from the goal of simplicity.

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Episode 17

Vertical Integration: Supplying Customers with Products and Services Faster, Better, and Cheaper

Conversations about when and where to vertically integrate so often focus on the expense. While cost is an important factor, in this episode Dave Whitehead and Jessi Hall, senior director of Vertical Integration at SEL, explore how the many benefits of building things in-house stack up for companies and customers.

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Episode 16

IT-OT Convergence: When One + One = Three

Electric power is critical to people’s lives. We need look no further for an example of this than what happened in Texas in February. Because reliability and security are essential to the power grid, the communication systems—or operational technology (OT)—that connect the control devices that manage electric power systems have historically remained independent of connections to the information technology (IT) side. However, in recent years, the electric power industry has begun to explore how to safely benefit from merging OT and IT. In this episode, Dave Whitehead discusses the topic with Phil O’Reilly, vice president global head of enterprise for Juniper Networks, a leader in the development of IT and networking solutions.

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Episode 15

Texas Blackout: Why the Lights Went Out and How to Keep Them On

Safe, reliable, and economical electric power is essential to our daily lives. The recent events in Texas are a reminder of just how important these adjectives are when it comes to providing power for homes, daycares, schools, businesses, hospitals—and the power generation facilities themselves. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks with SEL power systems experts Dr. Ed Schweitzer and David Costello about what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

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Episode 14

Safeguarding Civilization: A Few Thoughts on Cybersecurity

In our increasingly technology dependent world, cybersecurity threats have become an unfortunate feature of our daily lives. So many of us have been victims of identity theft or data breeches. But what happens when the target is an industrial control system like those that control large campuses, industrial operations, or the power grid? In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks about industrial control system cybersecurity with Robert M. Lee, the CEO of Dragos and a leading expert in the fields of industrial security incident response and threat intelligence.

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Episode 13

“How May I Help You?”–The Customer Service Playbook

One of the most important concepts for a business to understand is that a customer is never under any obligation to buy its product or service again. Repeat business and customer loyalty must be earned. Join Dave Whitehead as he talks with SEL Vice President of Sales & Customer Service Todd Bridges about one of the most powerful competitive advantages there are—outstanding customer service.

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Episode 12

Product Developers: Better to Have Skills a Mile Deep or a Mile Wide?

When innovation is key to your company’s success, building the right team is critical. But what does that mean? Do you need more specialists—people with deep expertise in one area? Or do you need more generalists—folks who have a working knowledge of many disciplines? In this episode, Dave talks with SEL Distinguished Engineer Tony Lee, a veteran product developer and leader, about finding the right mix.

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Episode 11

Employee Ownership: Owning a Career Vs. Renting a Job

One of the best ways to attract and retain great employees is to offer great benefits. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks with Joey Nestegard, SEL chief business and financial officer, about one of the most valuable benefits a business can offer employees—ownership.

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Episode 10

Application Engineers: When You Really Need to Phone a Friend

We’ve all experienced the frustration of having to wade through layers of automated phone prompts trying to get through to a customer service rep or having to wait weeks for a technician to come out—and even then you have to block a half-day window of time. In this episode, Dave Whitehead examines how this model can look very different, discussing the topic with two SEL experts: Dr. Ed Schweitzer, founder, president, and chief technology officer, and David Costello, chief sales and services officer.

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Episode 9

Creating Value for Customers

It’s been said that teaching is selling. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks about the art of selling with Laura Stento, senior sales manager. Laura talks about the work she does to help customers solve their challenges and her goal to provide value first. 

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Episode 8

Free Enterprise: America’s Innovation Engine

Whether in engineering or business, Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, a prolific inventor and founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, always encourages going back to first principles. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks with Dr. Schweitzer about how creativity, innovation, business, and economies thrive in a free, flat, fair, and open environment.

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Episode 7

FLISR, VVO, and DERMS, Oh My! Putting Distribution Automation to Work

Did you know that the power system can reconfigure itself when a fault occurs and that it can automatically adjust line voltage so that the energy delivered to your house is just right? Did you know that adding wind and solar power to the grid can make it less reliable? Join Dave Whitehead as he talks with automation engineer Bryan Fazzari about how distribution automation is meeting these engineering challenges head-on.

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Episode 6

Turning the Lights Back on After a Blackout

Often in the wake of a blackout, the focus is on what caused the power to go out, but we seldom hear how utilities get the power back on. In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks with Bill Cook, a power system expert with more than four decades of experience, about how he worked with the operations team at San Diego Gas & Electric to get the lights back on after the 2011 blackout in Southern California.

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Episode 5

Supply Chain Management: Getting Parts to Make Parts

In this episode, SEL Supply Chain Director Diane Donnermeyer talks with Dave Whitehead about how to keep the links of a supply chain connected and strong—even during a pandemic.

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Episode 4

The Need for Speed and the Future of Power System Protection

In this episode, Dave Whitehead talks to Dr. Ed Schweitzer about power system protection, why speed is so important, and what the future might look like.

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Episode 3

The Eyes and Ears of the Power System

Join Dave Whitehead and Fellow Engineer Greg Zweigle for an in-depth conversation about synchrophasors—the eyes and ears of the electric power system.

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Episode 2

Starting a Company, Building SEL—Part 2

Join Dave Whitehead as he talks with Dr. Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, the founder, president, and chief technology officer of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), about the origins of SEL’s culture and business practices, including Friday Lunch, the product warranty, and the focus on customer service.

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Episode 1

Starting a Company, Building SEL—Part 1

In this episode of Schweitzer Drive, Dave Whitehead interviews Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, the founder, president, and chief technology officer of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), about the company’s beginnings and the idea and invention that were the creative spark.

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Episode 0

Welcome to Schweitzer Drive

On Schweitzer Drive, Dave Whitehead, CEO of SEL, explores a broad range of topics impacting the electric power industry,  from integrating new sources of energy and securing the grid to advancements in design, manufacturing, business, education, and more.

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Meet the Host

Dave Whitehead_Schweitzer Drive

David Whitehead

CEO, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

A recognized leader in utility and industrial control system cybersecurity, Whitehead has testified before the U.S. Senate and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the importance of innovation and protecting against cyberattacks. He has presented at numerous cybersecurity conferences and authored dozens of papers on the topic.

For more than a decade, Whitehead led the SEL Research and Development Division, an 800-person multidisciplinary team responsible for the research, design, development, and testing of systems that manage, monitor, and control critical electric infrastructure.

Since joining SEL in 1994, he has been a driver of product and talent development and been instrumental in the development of the steady stream of inventions to come out of SEL. He has been awarded more than 73 patents around the world.

Whitehead received his BSEE from Washington State University and his MSEE from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a senior member of IEEE and a registered Professional Engineer in Washington, New York, Michigan, and North Carolina.