First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Frede Blaabjerg

IEEE Award Recipient Series: Q&As with Icons of Engineering and Technology: 2020 IEEE Edison Medal Recipient

Full Name

Frede Blaabjerg

Birth Date

05 06 1963

Place of Birth

Erslev, Denmark

Where did you grow up

Erslev (120 km from Aalborg), Denmark

Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession

Both my parents did not have a high level education - after 9 Y school they went to work. First farming and then later work in different industries

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a pilot

What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?

I have two more brothers (almost same age like me) and a sister who is some years younger. We should help a little at home, but got time for our education as well as our interest in terms of sport

Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)

I was very active in terms of sport - played soccer in summer and handball in winter. Spend many hours. Also time for badminton. At that time collecting stamps did also have my interest.

Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?

Beyond being active as above - I was also training some teams in soccer a few years. Also a way to earn a little money.

Did you have a part-time job (after school, summer)? What was your most surprising job assignment?

I have training some to play soccer, I also did distribute newspaper as well as when I entered high school I became postman. I think the postman job was a surprise for me and enjoyable. Work early in the morning and then spare-time in the afternoon. Combined with a lot of work outs distributing the mail.

Did you take vacations and/or go on day trips?Favorite holiday/family gathering?

Not very often - once or twice or year together with grand parents. At Christmas and Easter also gatherings with family

EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?

I think it was math because the beauty of describing many daily things by math was so nice. I also enjoyed history.

Did you have a least favorite subject in school (K-12, university. Why?

Not really - but maybe disciplines where a lot of discussions were involved

Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?

I selected Aalborg University due to their study programme structure (Problem based learning and working in teams) - I selected energy technology - that was in my opinion very interesting and I could see this would be very interesting in the future. Renewables, electric cars and so on

Employment and career: First job - Current position - Favorite job

My first job was at a train manufacturer making trains for the Danish Railways. After that I have taken a very career at Aalborg University - I have also been dean for close to five years for more than half of the university. Now I am full professor at Aalborg University, Denmark - and have got a special grant (Villum Investigator) where I have very free money to do the research I like to do. To be a professor is my favorite job..

Has your career turned out as you expected?

I did not in the very early see me as being a professor at a university - the career moved though fast and became a full professor in the age of 36 - so I have been lucky.

Has IEEE played a role in your career? How? What does IEEE mean to you?

I became member already as master student and it has mean a lot. It has given me strong network, a lot of good friends, through volunteering work also make a difference. I have organized 3-4 conferences, been Editor in Chief of IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, been a part of the management of the IEEE Power Electronics Society and now serving as President. So IEEE has been so important for me.

You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?

I am so humble to receive the Edison award - to be on a list with so many legends is a amazing. For my team, the field of power electronics and also personally it is fantastic to achieve.

What other associations have helped you in your career?

We have an engineering society in Denmark - but IEEE has been far the most important

Career Advice: What advice would you give to young professionals entering your field today?

The world is in a large transition - much more will be electrified and there are so many applications to work with (eg. renewable generation, new power system structures, electrification of transportation, energy savings, empower billion lives) - take the area you feel most for and you will feel you contribute to this fantastic change.

Reflection: What would you have done differently or tell your younger self now?

I would be more mobile - try different things in career. Do education at different universities, try different jobs in different places around the world

Was there a project that you were so passionate about that you continued to pursue it even though there may have been doubts about its success?

In the last ten years I have been working with reliability engineering in power electronics - when we started with a large center - I was a little uncertain how it would end - but now it is a great success and it is a fantastic field to work with. Also in the beginning of this century we worked with interfacing renewables to the grid - what we did there has defined a lot of what is going on now.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

I am very proud of how we have been able to contribute with technology which is so much needed today and 30 Years ago - it was just a dream. I am also proud of the + 50 PhD students I have graduated so far as well as the IEEE Edison Medal.

Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?

I enjoy travelling for meeting countries, I use time on hiking and also take care of my old house as it needs care. I also do often running - it is important for me to keep feeling fit.

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

I think my career is what I am most proud of - as well as my daughter and son - they do so well

Do you have a favorite food? Or a family recipe that may have been passed down?

Fish and beef - as well as vegetables are favorites

Do you have a favorite genre of music? or a favorite song? Or do you play an instrument?

I can not play music at all - but enjoy listening to U2, Runrig and some danish bands. So it is most rock and pop music

Do you have a prize possession? If so, please explain.

No not really - but I am very proud of this medal. And others have also honored me.

What are three things people may not know about you?

Maybe that I wake up very early

Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)

I did not have a personal mentor driving me - but when I was young some top professors at the university inspired and motivated me - also the famous professors in my field gave me a lot of inspiration in terms of their work and how they organised themselfes.

What is one thing you cannot live without in your work space?

I think it is coffee - my morning is so good with a lot of coffee - and all over the world

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

I have to say IEEE has been very important during my career - I can only encourage people to join and be engaged.