Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

September 28, 2012

Dr. Pathom Attaviriyanupap.D.Eng. is the engineer about a smart grid in Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. He met electrical engineering in Thailand, and studied in Japan, entered in a Japanese enterprise. He told us reasons of studied about electrical engineering, and studied in Japan, and why did he decide to work in Japan.


May 1998
M.S. in Electrical Engineering , Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
March 1999
Completion of Japanese Language Courses, International Student Center, Kyushu University
March 2000
Completion of a student, Information Science and Electrical Engineering, Kyushu University
March 2003
PhD. in Electrical Engineering , Hokkaido University
April 2003
Research Associate, Graduate School of Engineering, Hokkaido University
November 2003
Research Associate, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo
November 2005
Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology
April 2008
Entrance Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

Now he is a senior engineer at Power Grid Project Group and working on development of renewable energy sources power output forecasting system, development of planning, control and monitoring system in smart grid and smart community.

Thailand has few resources similar to Japan.

Dr. Pathom, why did you think that you would major in electrical engineering?

I've been interested in physics and mathematics from childhood. So, I chose the faculty of engineering in Chulalongkorn University first. Then, I studied the electromagnetic theory and got interested in the subject very much. So, I decided to proceed to the department of electrical engineering

Why did you come to like the electromagnetic theory?

When I learned the Maxwell equation in the class of electromagnetic theory, I felt it was quite difficult. So, I thought I'd challenge.

In the wide field of electrical engineering, why did you major in the electric power engineering?

Although electricity has been commonly used in our lives, we cannot see it. So, I was very interested in how the electricity has been produced.

By the way, what kind of power generation technology has been used in Thailand?

Natural gas thermal power generations are used most. In Thailand, there are not sufficient resources like Japan and many of fuels have been imported from overseas.

When you entered in the university, how was the popularity of the electrical engineering?

When I entered in the university, the electrical engineering was the most popular department and many talented students had gathered.

Do you know how it is now?

I heard that the information engineering such as computer technology are increasing now.

I studied in Japan for advance technology in the world and a scholarship.

What kind of research were you doing in the master's course?

It was a research on the optimal power flow of electric power systems. When supplying electricity from power generation plants, the production cost and transmission losses occur in transmission lines have to be considered. The purpose of the optimal power flow is to determine the optimal load dispatching of every plant and optimal tap setting of transformers so that the production cost/transmission losses become minimum.

Please let me know about the difficulty of that research.

Optimization technique is required to calculate the best solution. Optimization is one of the mathematical technique, and it was difficult for me to understand it because it was the first time.

Were good results obtained?

Although a small system was examined, the losses were reduced by about 5% by the optimization. I think that it leads to future energy saving etc.

By the way, why did you think that you would study in Japan?

There were many choices such as the United States and Europe. But, Japan was leading the world in terms of technology, and there was a scholarship system from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan. Furthermore, I thought that the opportunities for employment would also increase because I will also be able to speak Japanese in addition to Thai and English. There are many Japanese companies in Thailand.

Was there any anxiety about studying abroad?

I was 22 years old those days and I had not gone to overseas, so I was honestly worried. But, there were some friends who were going to study in Japan together. So, I was able to ease a little.

Since I was interested in Japanese originally, I had a good time in my school days.

Did you feel hard to study Japanese?

It was hard at first. But, since I was interested in Japanese originally, I didn't feel difficult so much. Also, in Thailand, there was popularity in Japanese animation, comics and music, and the difference in culture was also seldom felt.

What kind of research were you doing in the doctoral course of Hokkaido University?

I was doing research for determining the best power generation plan for a power producer, supposing the situation where two or more power producers participate in the electricity market competitively.

Are there any memories in the Japanese laboratory?

It was pleasant for me to have a Barbecue party in summer within the campus of Hokkaido University.

It seems that your student life in Japan was very full. By the way, some Japanese universities are investigating to have class in English or to enroll in the fall. What do you think about that ?

I think that enrollment in fall will make many foreign students easy to study in Japan , although it depends on countries. Also, English class is better for the foreign students to be sure. But, an opportunity to speak Japanese will also come to decrease. I think that studying Japanese can make living in Japan more fun.

Did you think that prices in Japan were high?

I thought that prices were high. But, there are financial supports such as a scholarship and an exemption system of tuition. Especially almost all doctoral course students can get some financial supports by universities, they do not need to worry about their lives.

My job is to be realizing the Japanese smart grid.

Why did you think that you would find a job in Japan ?

While I was living and doing research for a long time in Japan, I thought that an environment for academic research in Japan was excellent. For example, books, papers etc. can be found easily and equipment for R&D is also substantial. Since not only electric power technology but also the other technologies in Japan are better than Thailand. So, I thought that I would like to work in Japan.

Why did you choose the electric manufacturer?

I was very interested in a micro grid, and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation was doing development of the micro grid in Hachinohe City in Japan those days. So, I decided that I would work at Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

Are you doing work of the micro grid still now?

Now, I am working on larger scale, called smart grid.

Could you tell me the difference between "micro grid" and "smart grid"?

First, "grid" means "electric power system" and micro means "small". So, a "micro grid" means "a small electric power system." Even if small, it is not easy to operate it. Because, influence on changes in power is great compared with large-scale electric power systems. The technology about micro grid means how well the small electric power system operates. On the other hand, a smart grid means a wise electric power system. The data of consumers is measured using new equipment called a smart meter, and the data of electric power which wasn't seen until now will be visible. It can be expected that power systems become wiser than before and can be operated more efficiently. This technology is called smart technology.

If a smart grid is realized, I feel that it is likely to become a new world different from former.

I think that how to use energies such as electricity and gas will be changed. A consumer comes to participate in an electric power system in forms such as energy saving, or energy producing. Also, power system operators can understand how consumers use the electricity. So, I think that various new operation can be realized.

What are you involved in any part of the smart grid?

It is expected that a lot of photovoltaic generations will be introduced into electric power systems. The demand-and-supply balance technology using storage batteries or thermal power generations to handle sudden changes in photovoltaic generations is needed. In Japan, it is expected that 70~80 percent of photovoltaic generations will be introduced into distribution systems. So, the current and voltage of distribution systems may be changed largely. For this reason, development such as controlling in distribution systems and the smart meters technology are also required. I have been engaged in development of systems for balancing between supply and demand or estimating fluctuation in photovoltaic generation.

The 21st century is the energy century. Electrical Engineering is becoming more important in the future.

Have you ever felt that your job is hard ?

Sometimes, I have. But, the present job is my favorite field and I can demonstrate my own ability. So I feel very fun.

Does the research in the present work differ from the university?

Well. I think the consciousness about time is different. The restrictions of time are severe.

Do you have any opportunities to go to overseas or negotiate with foreign customers?

Since I am engaged in system development now, there is very much domestic work. I am allowed to work like a Japanese engineer.

How does the study of electrical engineering in university help your present work?

The technology for matching between demand and supply is the optimization technology itself. So, I think that the technology studied at the university is utilized directly.

Do you think it was good to learn electrical engineering ?

Yes, I do. The 21st century is called century of energy. I think that almost all people have not been so interested in electricity or energy. But, recently many people have been interested in them. I am very happy that I can contribute to develop technologies in terms of the electric energy in which many people are interested

Japan is the very comfortable country for living. That fascinate is financial support such as a scholarship.

Do you think it was good to study and work in Japan ?

Yes. Japan is a country of high technology and the research environment is also well.
Moreover, Japanese government and companies always invest in new technology. So, I was also able to challenge new things.

Do you have any plans to return to Thailand?

Since the current work is pleasant, there is no plan to return to Thailand for the moment.

Conversely, were there any troubles in Japanese life?

It was hard to memorize Japanese names. Conversely, since my name is also long, it may be troubled by various Japanese systems.

Is there any dreams in terms of your work ?

A smart grid is a project which does not finish in several years. So, I wish to aim at development of a more efficient system which can make us use energy easier. Japanese people are good at developing fine technology. I would like to absorb it into myself positively.

Finally, please advise those who want to work in Japan or who want to study in Japan.

The level of Japanese technologies is highest in the world. Also, I think that it is a country which lives easily for people who have not been to Japan. Moreover, I think Japan is an attractive country since some assistance is offered also in respect of a scholarship, tuition exemption, etc. I hope that many people come to Japan and challenge development of new electric power systems together.

Thank you very much for today's interview.