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UIUC Energy Science Siebel Scholar Pursued His PhD Later in Life


The News-Gazette

May 14th 2017

So, college is all about hanging out in the dorm, studying, then maybe a few beers and meeting the love of your life, right? For many people, that is a common experience — but not everybody. The News-Gazette's Paul Wood talked with older students who have used life lessons, a mature approach and self-discipline, online courses, and family support to fulfill their dreams of higher education.

Karl Reinhard, 56, is a retired Army colonel and is getting his Ph.D. after a long gap. 

"I'm not your 19-year-old, for sure. I'm retired as a brigade commander, from the 'hurt locker' (bomb disposal) in Iraq," he said.

He started his doctoral work in 1998.

"I was supposed to be finished in two years, then the Army asked me to command an ordinance unit at Fort Lewis, and then 9/11 happened," he said.

In 2010, Reinhard really retired from the U.S. Army after more than 28 years service.

For his Ph.D., Reinhard led a nine-student Data Quality team using a synchrophasor, a GPS-based device that's accurate to a millionth of a second, to measure the power grid's operating state in near-real time.

He did so well he was named a Siebel Scholar, recognizing top students in energy science.

After finishing his dissertation, he is teaching green energy and senior design. He is doing post-doctoral work and talking with an energy start-up here.

To say that his family was understanding about his need to study is an understatement — he had two sons getting their degrees at the University of Illinois while he was here; both have graduated.

Read the whole article here.