PSC has more than 240 global employees all contributing to helping power a more sustainable world. Our employee spotlight segment offers a look at what our hardworking people are all about when they’re not serving our clients and each other at work. This spotlight is on Ben Hutchins, North America Senior Studies Consultant.
How would you describe your role at PSC?
Ben: When I joined PSC in 2020, I was initially another engineer performing generation interconnection stability studies. However, as my time at PSC has progressed, I’ve become the go-to NERC compliance and “automation” personality in the office. I’ve written automation around a good portion of the major power systems software, including PSCAD, PowerFactory, PSS/E, PowerWorld, PSLF, Aspen OneLiner, and PowerGEM TARA.
What’s the most interesting or most gratifying part of your job?
Ben: I take great pleasure in being able to take large datasets and turn them into something interactive and understandable. I also love being able to solve problems quickly, which saves engineers time; when someone has a question about how to automate some manual work, I take it as a challenge to see how quickly I can turn around something amazing! (Preferably with some nice interactive, graphical outputs, of course.)
What is something your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you?
Ben: I’m an amateur pianist who also makes piano videos for fun! I like to create time-lapses and play piano over the video. Here’s a link to an example of one; I played the piano to a timelapse of my parent’s backyard. I also have a Player Piano, which I use to make other piano videos. And I was once in an orchestra that played music from various video games.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Ben: I grew up in Reno, NV, which has a desert climate. The summers were hot; the winters were cold and icy! I now live in Madison, WI, with mild summers and very icy-cold winters. Last season, when I went to shovel snow, it was so cold my eyes teared up. Then those tears froze into icicles on my glasses, in my beard, and on my eyelashes!
If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?
Ben: I would like to eventually live on farmland, in a place with gigabit fiber-internet and a low cost of living. The nice thing about living on farmland, is you don’t have to farm it yourself; you can make money renting it to a local farmer! Then my yard would always be a big beautiful green area that I don’t have to mow.
What are your hobbies?
Ben: I really enjoy origami. I’ve been making paper airplanes since I was very little and could throw them in a circle back to myself and then catch them! Now I can make far more. For friends/family, I make origami cards for birthdays. For my workplaces, I leave behind giant cubohemioctahedrons. Here’s a pic of one I left at the MPE offices in the Ministry of Sound, UK.
What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?
Ben: The best advice I’ve received came from a poem written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann called Desiderata.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Ben: My proudest accomplishment changes year to year. This year, renovating my house with my wife has been a great experience which I’ve been quite proud of.
What is the quality you admire most in other people?
Ben: I greatly admire those who are both 1) good active listeners and 2) can also lead conversations. I’ve been trying to master both my entire life, but I have never completely succeeded. One always comes at the cost of the other. For those who have mastered both, I find them to be fantastic leaders!
What are you most looking forward to in the next five years?
Ben: I’m looking forward to seeing more developments in automated driving, which is cheap and affordable. Comma AI has been making great progress toward creating low-cost automated driving for the masses, and Tesla has been doing so well with AutoPilot. I can’t wait to see where it goes!
Recent great read?
Ben: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne has been a pleasure to read as an adult fiction book.
What’s a smell or sound you love? Why?
Ben: The sound of wild baby turkeys! We get so many of them in our backyard. They’re so cute!
What’s a smell or sound you hate? Why?
Ben: The smell of nail polish remover. Nail salons give me the biggest headaches of my life!
What do you work toward in your free time?
Ben: Learning web development! There’s so much to learn, and it’s all so exciting. I’ve learned such a great deal watching WebDevSimplified recently, plus I’ve taken a few web development courses, which have further spurred my excitement for creating great websites.
If you could eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ben: Spaghetti! A big pot of sauce lasts me almost an entire week. Delicious!
Do you/have you done any volunteer or community service work? If yes, why/how is it important to you?
Ben: I previously volunteered for the Children’s Cabinet in Reno, NV. There are so many who are less fortunate than ourselves. I find especially that our youngest and most vulnerable sometimes just need a helping hand. The Children’s Cabinet is a great organization making changes in many people’s lives.
What makes you proud to work at PSC?
Ben: I’m proud to work at PSC because we have management that values a good balance of quality work which meets client requirements while striking a good balance for the price. We have expertly knowledgeable management who is there to help when needed but generally allows employees the freedom to engineer the right solution.
Seeing very satisfied clients who value our input brings me a lot of confidence in my work and my team, and makes me happy to be at work each day.