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In Memory of Pete Sauer

Anyone who knows Dr. Pete Sauer knows what a joy is was to work with him. He actually officially retired just a semester in to my Master's program, but he couldn't stay away long, and he continued to be a mentor and a supporter throughout my time at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I was honored to be one of his final advisees, and to have his signature on my Master's thesis. He encouraged me to pursue my passions and interests, provided me opportunities to work with world class researchers and expand my horizons, and never failed to remind me of his experience working on the VLA in remote New Mexico whenever he was reminded of my home state. 



After learning that he passed this January, I went back to listen to the recordings I took at his official retirement ceremony in December, 2019, which was filled with laughter and fond recollections of the tireless effort he put in as a professor. A few thoughts from his colleagues really stood out:



- He was singularly successful in having a power program at a time when there were very few power programs out there, because the allure of power and energy was not exactly electrifying at the time. But Pete ran a very good program because of his interest in his students. 


- He was a pillar of UIUC, who reminds us all what responsibility we have to our communities. 


- Pete's approach was simple: When you want to accomplish something, you start with one conversation at a time and a commitment to see through all the things you promise to do. 


- It takes someone to light a candle, someone to make sure it stays lit for awhile, and someone who sees that to come back and light another candle. The more candles that are lit, the brighter the world becomes. This is the mission of academia, and Pete was a prime example of someone who lit candles, who stewarded candles, and who enabled those candles to go on and light more. 


- He always sought out new ideas to improve the experience for students and maximize investments in their education. 



I am so grateful for Pete's impact on my journey and that of so many other students. The IEEE Power & Energy Society and IEEE Foundation have had a lasting and meaningful effect on my career as well, and I can think of no better way to honor Pete's memory than donating to enable the next generation of candles to be lit. I will be donating to the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative through the link below, and I encourage my friends at UIUC and IEEE to do the same, or consider donating to an outreach program that has been meaningful to you. 




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