Sitting at the Burns & McDonnell booth at a recent conference, Doug Houseman held court. People he’d known for 20 or 30 years dropped by to say hello, while others came to pick his brain on a wide range of issues from the electric grid, to battery storage, to renewable integration and a host of other topics.
“Doug has an exceptional depth of experience and an amazing level of industry and non-industry contacts. His knowledge is staggering,” says Richard Mueller, manager of engineering technology at DTE Energy, a Detroit-based electric and gas utility that Houseman is working with on grid automation and distributed energy.
Houseman offered his opinions and advice freely, even if he didn’t have a formal business arrangement with the people seeking his input.
“He is very concerned that we have lots of visions and ambitions, but there are very few people who are willing to take the path to see those to fruition,” says Lucas McIntosh, managing director of 1898 & Co., a new consulting arm of Burns & McDonnell.
After working almost four decades in the U.S. Navy and as an executive at consultants Capgemini and EnerNex, Houseman joined Burns & McDonnell in 2017 to help coach a new generation of engineers. He’s now a principal consultant at 1898 & Co. “I’m having fun and I’m dumping a lot out of this brain and teaching a whole pile of young engineers,” he says.
On any given day, Houseman works with one of his 12 teams on everything from grid operation and interconnection to energy storage and rural broadband. He spends hours a day on the phone coaching the engineers to ask the right questions and get correct information.
“He has a continued energy and passion for sharing his knowledge,” McIntosh says. “I am sure that a lot of people have a great breadth or depth in the industry, but at their age they are probably not contributing” as much as Houseman does.
Houseman has been an industry leader for years, and has written portions of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ “GridVision 2050.” He has developed and taught dozens of courses and tutorials on grid modernization for IEEE and written countless white papers on related topics.
He’s also led the IEEE Power and Energy Society’s Intelligent Grid Coordinating Committee and Emerging Technology Committee for the last six years, is a member of the GridWise Architecture Council and founded the Smart Energy Alliance.
Every penny he’s earned speaking and teaching goes into IEEE scholarships. “You have got to give back,” he says. “There’s got to be another generation to lead.”