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Vestas launches Professor Peter Wallace Prize & Internship for sought-after grid talent

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Partnering with Monash University and the Wallace Family, Vestas has established and sponsored the Professor Peter Wallace Prize & Internship.

The initiative celebrates the late Professor Peter Wallace (1939 – 2021), a pioneer of Australia’s energy transition.

Among many ground-breaking achievements, Professor Wallace placed great importance on the electricity industry’s responsibility to create opportunities for emerging talent.

To celebrate his legacy, Vestas will award three energy engineering students from Monash University, with either a short-term paid internship or one of two monetary prizes to support their studies, each year.

The new initiative builds on Vestas’ ongoing work with some of Australia’s leading universities and TAFE’s. This includes their investment into Federation University’s Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre,
Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus and a formally recognised partnership with Canberra Institute of Technology
– who was recently awarded winner of the 2021 Australian Training Awards and nominated by Vestas.

In his early career, Professor Wallace worked as a power systems engineer for the State Electricity Commission (SEC), now known as the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV).

Programming some of the first computers in the world, he was a member of the core team that designed the network of power stations and planned, analysed and implemented the electrification of much of Victoria.

Professor Wallace later rose to be chief engineer of the SECV, before “retiring”. He went on to establish and teach Power Systems studies and consult to the renewable energy industry. He enabled hundreds of megawatts of renewables to be connected in the early days of the industry.

“Professor Wallace had the benefit of SECV’s support for his studies and professional development, and he was acutely aware that post-SECV, that support would drop away,” said Peter Cowling, country head of Vestas Australia and New Zealand.

“A shortage of power systems courses would mean a new generation of engineers would miss the opportunities he had – and ultimately the system would suffer.

“In our small way, we are proud to carry on Peter’s tradition in supporting Power Systems studies. This is so relevant today – to transition to renewables, we desperately need more power systems engineers.

“Like so many people across the industry, I was personally inspired and deeply impacted by the intellect, generosity and farsightedness of Professor Wallace,” Cowling said.

Professor Wallace was instrumental in teaching power systems engineering in Monash University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, in particular power systems analysis.

He was passionate about teaching undergraduate students and supervised many final year student research projects in power engineering, as well as providing supervision of Masters and PhD students.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Vestas through the Professor Peter Wallace Prize & Internship and our
Co-operative Education Program,” said Dr Roger Dargaville, deputy director of Monash Energy Institute.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain real industry experience while contributing their ingenuity and talent towards solving the energy transition challenges ahead.”

“Having just launched our Professor Peter Wallace Prize & Internship, the successful engineering student from Monash University has commenced their placement alongside our grid connection specialists in our Global
Power Plant Solutions group,” said Ragu Balanathan, Vestas’ head of global power plant slutions.

“We look forward to sharing our world-leading experience, and equally learn from some of the brightest talent that this country has to offer.”

“Peter’s children, grandchildren and I are very proud to be part of this initiative. Peter was passionate about
learning in all areas of life and caring for the environment”, said Peter’s widow Frances Wallace.

“He brought people together, for the benefit of society, to build practical solutions and fundamental change. Peter strived to ensure future generations of engineers, both here in Australia and around the world, would be able to
continue in his footsteps.”

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