The pioneering inventions and leadership of Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, in bringing computer-based protection and control methods to the marketplace have revolutionized safety, reliability, and efficiency in generating, transmitting, and distributing electric power. Dr. Schweitzer envisioned the concept of the “smart grid” long before the term was popularized, recognizing early in his career the importance of computer technology for power protection and control. Microprocessor-based methods, such as digital protective relays, use microcontrollers and software to detect electrical faults in a power system. Digital methods enable engineers to locate power outages more quickly and protect against widespread loss of service compared to traditional electromechanical protective relays. Dr. Schweitzer was not deterred by those in the industry who told him that applying digital technology to power systems was impractical. He founded Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) in 1982 to develop and manufacture digital protective relays, driving his research to commercial application. Schweitzer’s innovations have allowed engineers of all backgrounds to monitor, control, and protect power systems in ways not previously imagined. The application of Schweitzer’s digital technology as replacement equipment or in new installations has led to reduced design work in protection and control systems, flexible operation options, and increased reliability, resulting in reduced cost. SEL equipment is in service around the world at voltages from 5 kV through 500 kV, protecting feeders, motors, transformers, capacitor banks, transmission lines, and other power apparatus.
Dr. Schweitzer is an IEEE Fellow and member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. In 2012 he was awarded the IEEE Medal in Power Engineering for his "leadership in revolutionizing the performance of electrical power systems with computer-based protection and control equipment." He is currently president and chief executive officer of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Pullman, Wash.