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Dr. Michael Ropp
Assistant Professor, SDSU Electrical Engineering Department
Dr. Michael Ropp was born in Rapid City, SD in 1967. He grew up in western Nebraska as the middle of three brothers. He survived, and went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in Music from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1991, playing low brass and low strings. While there, he worked as a radio announcer, then as a technician and programmer for the Nebraska Center for Archaeophysical Research under physicist John Weymouth. He married in 1991, then went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, where he worked as a Research Assistant in the University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education. He received his Masters and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1996 and 1998, respectively. In January 1999, Dr. Ropp accepted a professorship at South Dakota State University, where he is still on the faculty, much to the chagrin of many of his students.
His engineering career has focused primarily on a) photovoltaics (PV), the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity, and b) the integration of distributed energy resources into electric power systems. Dr. Ropp worked on the modeling, fabrication, and characterization of high-efficiency silicon solar cells under Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, and achieved two world record efficiencies for dendritic web silicon solar cells (both since broken—the records, not the cells). Later, he moved into PV systems work, especially the prevention of islanding. He has since worked extensively in computer modeling of complex systems, particularly power systems with distributed energy resources. He invented a new islanding prevention method, which was patented. He has authored over twenty technical papers in this general area, including a book chapter (and a second one in progress), an IEEE Technical Prize Paper, and three Sandia National Laboratories reports. He also participates actively in the standards-making process both nationally and internationally. He was a key participant in the creation of IEEE-929, and is presently active in the development of IEEE-1547 and IEC-62116. At SDSU, he continues to do research, outreach, and education in PV, power electronics, and power systems, as well as energy issues in general. Last summer (2005), he was named the Technical Lead for South Dakota’s Third-Generation Photovoltaics Group, a group currently in the process of obtaining funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). He is actively collaborating with the National Center for Photovoltaics at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, as well as a number of entities from the PV and windpower industries, and recently won an NSF Early Faculty Career Award, the most prestigious award the NSF gives to individual investigators.
Dr. Ropp is a licensed Professional Engineer in South Dakota. He currently lives in Brookings with his wife Susan, herself a PhD holder in molecular biology, and twin children Thomas and Katherine, who appear to be demolition specialists.