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Impact Award, Fall 2023

Michael Leef

When deciding what institution to attend for his undergraduate degree, Michael Leef was impressed by the opportunities beyond the classroom in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

During his electrical engineering studies, Leef dove into the experiences available to him.

He served as a mentor for Engineering Projects in Community Service, or EPICS, High, an ASU-run organization in which high school students build technology to solve societal problems. Leef helped run the Fulton Ambassadors, an organization of Fulton Schools students who assist with outreach and recruiting, as an executive board member.

He also assisted in students’ education as an undergraduate teaching assistant.

“As a teaching assistant, having the opportunity to connect with students about the courses that were impactful for me was something I enjoyed doing,” Leef says.

On the academic side of his involvement, Leef participated in the Grand Challenges Scholars Program, which trains Fulton Schools students to develop solutions to some of society’s largest problems and help improve societal sustainability. He also spent two semesters conducting research in the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, or FURI.

“FURI was a triumph in my Fall 2021 semester and Fall 2023 semester of undergraduate research,” Leef says. “Seeing the evolution of myself as a researcher and working on projects that included the breadth of electrical engineering was very rewarding.”

He chose to study electrical engineering because of his desire to improve power electronics, which regulate the flow of electricity and convert it to needed types. Leef aims to boost efficiency and performance while making power electronics more sustainable.

He knew he was in the right major when he began using the knowledge he’d gained earlier in his degree to design new technology. Leef put his learning to the test as an intern at the power company Arizona Public Service, or APS.

“If the first half of the degree program is to understand everything about the world and how it works, the second half makes engineering particularly fun by applying this knowledge to create new solutions,” Leef says.

After graduation, he will return to APS as a transmission and distribution engineer for the company while studying for his master’s degree in electrical engineering part-time. Leef plans to continue his studies in electrical engineering beyond his master’s degree.

“I want to be on the cutting edge of research for power systems,” he says. “I’d like to implement that work into my career as a transmission and distribution engineer to support keeping the lights on for my community.”

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ Fall 2023 class here.

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