What I’ve Learned as an Advanced Energy Intern

My name is Connor Sill, and I am a recent grad of NC State University with a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. I spent this summer as a marketing and communications intern at Advanced Energy. Coming into this position, I felt I only had a basic knowledge of the rapidly growing and ever-changing electric vehicle (EV) and energy industry. However, with these past few months under my belt, I have been exposed to so many things surrounding the industry, with even more to build upon!

I based most of my previous knowledge on what I’d heard or seen on social media and TV. Fortunately, much of it was accurate and helpful, but there was much more to learn. I knew coming in of the fuel savings of EVs, their lower emissions and their reduced maintenance requirements. However, I had a lot of questions, such as how and when to charge a vehicle, along with where these charging stations are located and how long the battery for each car lasts. I also wasn’t sure how much actual savings one would generate from owning an EV as opposed to a gas-fueled vehicle.

I was able to find answers to all these pressing questions and much more throughout my time at Advanced Energy. I learned about all the new and different EVs, including school buses, semi-trucks, pickups, etc., that are being introduced to the market. I even had the opportunity to gain firsthand experience with the all-electric Volvo C40 Recharge. It was great to develop my own views of the technology and not need to rely solely on someone else’s word for it. I had heard that EVs typically drive very smoothly, and the Volvo did not disappoint.

Everything from charging to the physical appearance of EVs was new. Having a “frunk” — a trunk-like storage compartment at the front of a car — would for sure be something I would need some time to get used to! The software within EVs may also come off as confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is incredibly helpful. For me personally, I would get anxious and nervous trying to map out how many miles I have left before I need to charge, or if I’m going to make it to my destination. But these EVs can do all that for you and take away the unneeded stress, which I think is a life saver.

One other setting I was fascinated by was the one-pedal driving. When I was first introduced to this technique, of only using the accelerator to both accelerate and brake, I was a bit wary and no doubt nervous to try it out. I was even afraid to take the Volvo out of the parking lot initially! However, utilizing this setting extends the vehicle’s driving range as well as its brake life.

Perhaps what I learned most related to the charging of EVs and what goes into the process. I was a little skeptical coming in about charging, since I don’t see many charging stations when I’m out and about, while I see gas stations on every corner. But, just in the last few months, I’ve been starting to notice more charging stations around town, in shopping centers, around the NC State campus and in other places. I’ve subconsciously trained my eye to notice these stations, which I think is intriguing.

One thing that people may not know is the distinction between the types of chargers, or even that there are different methods of charging. Level 2 charging is one of those methods, which you may see as part of an in-home charging unit or in public spaces. These chargers tend to have a lower energy output and deliver fewer kilowatt-hours of electricity over a given amount of time than DC fast charging, another method of charging. That is why Level 2 chargers are more beneficial when charging for prolonged periods, such as when at work or overnight.

DC fast charging is more for when you need a quick charge, for, say, a road trip. The energy output of these chargers is much higher than that of Level 2 chargers, which means you’ll spend less time charging. (There is also Level 1 charging, which offers the slowest charging speed and is mostly used at home.)

Another detail that I found interesting about charging, and DC fast charging in particular, is that the battery will charge fastest, or most efficiently, when it’s closer to being depleted. For example, a vehicle at 10% battery will usually charge at a much faster rate than one at, say, 50%. Once the vehicle reaches a charge of 80%, typically, there will be a drastic decline in the rate of charge to protect the battery.

One last part about charging that I found useful was the ability to do everything from your phone, including paying and looking at reviews for each station. If a station has a low rating, maybe you drive a couple of extra miles to get to a more highly rated one instead. Not to mention, paying on your phone eliminates the threat of “skimming” at the gas station.

My internship experience was centered not only on learning about the growing world of EVs but also on learning more about the marketing and communications field. I was able to tackle a variety of projects that will no doubt be beneficial to me in my future career. From creating banner advertisements, logo designs, social media content, blog articles and more, I built on my experience and grew more comfortable with these types of tasks. I liked the flexibility I was given in terms of completing assignments that I was most interested in, such as drafting social media content, which gave me time to learn more about platforms like Adobe Photoshop and Canva.

Getting to tour Advanced Energy’s Motors and Drives Lab was another thing that I was passionate about coming in. I learned so much about what goes on in the lab and even got to experience the testing of a motor firsthand. All in all, I’ve been able to form many connections with people here at Advanced Energy, and I’m looking forward to learning more about this rapidly growing industry and to what the future holds!