Meet Jeff Rieks, Principal Engineer at AST for three years and counting. His job is helping the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) turn the power of moving seawater and rivers into electricity.
Jeff is based in Colorado and supports the DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO). Jeff serves as technical lead supporting WPTO’s cutting-edge research and development (R&D) projects that seek to harness the power of both the seas and rivers. This field is known as marine and hydrokinetics, and seeks to find ways of converting the energy of waves, tides, and currents (in both oceans and rivers) into electricity.
His focus areas are testing and development of infrastructure, and research into advanced controls for wave energy converters to increase power production. Whether industry-led projects or national lab efforts to support industry, Jeff said this variety keeps things interesting.
For Jeff, the coolest thing about his job is how fulfilling it is for him when he comes up with an idea for a new area of research and then gets to guide that concept through strategic development and the full project phase to commercialization and thus witnessing the impact on industry. Jeff says he always wanted to use engineering to have a significant real-world impact – and his current job allows him to do just that!
What Jeff likes best about AST are his project teams. As he explains it, it is so important to a have a team that is both professionally competent and enjoyable to be around. “If you work with people with these two qualities, your job satisfaction is naturally going to be quite high,” he said.
In his free time, Jeff enjoys horseback riding and even owns five. He shared a funny story about how he was out training his then two-year old colt in a pasture near his home. Jeff was drinking a cup of hot tea in one of the YETI tumblers that AST handed out at a holiday party.
As he explains it: “I set it down and got to work, and when the 800lb colt was running full force towards me, he went right over the cup – kicking it and sending it flying through the air about 15 feet. As an engineer, I realized this is true field testing. And when I went to inspect the tumbler, I found it didn’t even have a dent or scratch on it. Now that’s good quality!”
Well, we like to think AST’s work is like a YETI – good, reliable, quality work! #YETI