She knows how to generate enthusiasm for energy solutions


28 februari 2023

Cecilia Boström got hooked on electrical engineering during her degree project about wave power.

As an engineer Cecilia Boström is used to solving problems. She has continued with this in her role as Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Here, researchers get many questions about which energy solutions would be the quickest way of meeting society's needs. “It's great that there is such a lot of interest in a sustainable and well-functioning electricity system,” says Cecilia Boström, Senior lecturer at the Division of Electricity.

Being an engineer was however not top of the list of her dream jobs when Cecilia Boström was growing up. Veterinarian and archaeologist were her top choices. However, she had an interest in the structures and patterns in her surroundings and was good at both mathematics and physics. So, she chose natural sciences as her upper-secondary school programme at the nearby Sigtuna Humanistiska Läroverk.

“I just wanted to understand how to describe and explain what I saw around me in an understandable way and have the tools for this,” says Cecilia Boström.

Wave power project gave a taste for more   

Cecilia Boström, Senior lecturer at the Division of
Electricity. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

Today her biggest motivator is rather to open other people’s eyes to technology, and especially electricity. As for Cecilia Boström, this happened when she was a civil engineer student in technical physics at Uppsala University. A degree project about the newly started wave power project in Lysekil 2004 gave such a taste for more that she continued as a doctoral student at the Division of Electricity.

“I felt I wasn't finished with my degree project. I joined the project at a time when wave power was relatively new at the university and the research group was just about to launch the first prototype of a wave power generator in Lysekil. It was very exciting to be a part of this and a huge moment when the generators actually worked and could produce electricity back to the shore.”

A focus on renewable energy

In conjunction with the launch of the prototypes, the company Seabased was established where Cecilia Boström began working part-time. The company is still active, for example in Norway. Cecilia Boström's own research has since moved over to more general studies within electricity networks, with a focus on the connection of renewable energy sources, energy storage and the use of power electronics.

“Currently, research is dominated by the question of how we can create a stable and well-functioning electricity network. There are, most importantly, many safety aspects that we need to examine with regards to both electricity generation and electricity transmission.”

Something that she also places emphasis on is the need to have a holistic perspective of a system, which often requires multidisciplinary research. As luck would have it such competency is close to hand. Within the university, Cecilia Boström and her colleagues work together with researchers from information technology, economics and medicine, among others.

Projects about the electrification of the transport sector

Another area that Cecilia Boström and her colleagues are active within is the electrification of vehicles and the future charging infrastructure. Several projects about propulsion systems have been running for some time at the Division of Electricity, also a part of the national centre of competency Swedish Electromobility Centre, SEC.

“There is a strong sense of networking, both within and between, the higher education institutions, industry, government agencies and other partners when it comes to electromobility. Here, Uppsala University can contribute significantly with both research and expertise. Education is another area where Uppsala University is offering courses and equipping students so that they are attractive within this type of labour market and within the energy sector in general,” says Cecilia Boström.

Time for dialogue and perspective

As the Head of a department with close to 30 nationalities, she would very much like to have more time for strategic planning. Time to plan more research projects, have more contact with industry, review education programmes, to improve.

“I would really like to initiate more dialogue with the students, to have more time to meet all of my colleagues, and to be able to follow-up in a good way.”

"We would really like to take on board more students, particularly female students, and help them to see how interesting these questions are and how they can have an impact on these issues and use their expertise," says Cecilia Boström.

Still, it looks like Cecilia Boström have most things under control. A unique high-voltage lab is to be upgraded with a security-adapted system. More advanced equipment has been purchased, amongst other things a real-time simulator.

“The simulator makes it possible to test different scenarios for the electricity network, such as when something goes wrong, and study how the system reacts to this. There is also focus on adapting our organisation so that our research activities can be conducted with certain security criteria in order to meet future needs within research and education.”

An increased interest for electricity issues

The level of interest in society for issues regarding energy and electricity has increased, and this is reflected in the number of questions the department gets.

“Lots of people wonder if our energy system can cope without, or need to keep, nuclear power. The answer is often that it depends, both on how things look like today and in the future. Everything has a consequence, and this requires further studies,” says Cecilia Boström.

“Another question is what the perfect generator looks like. Again, even here it depends. For example, with wave power we have used large linear generators. In other cases, it can be more efficient with smaller, high-speed rotating generators.”

Cecilia Boström hopes that more people will want to get an education within the field of electrical engineering as it plays such a critical role in society.

“I want to open people’s eyes for this subject, to see how important it is with this type of competency in our society, both in general and where decisions are made.”

Facts: Cecilia Boström

Age: 41.

Title: Senior Lecturer in Electrical Engineering and Head of Department at the Department of Electrical Engineering, Uppsala University.

Education: Civil engineer in Engineering Physics, PhD in Engineering Physics/Electrical Engineering, with an emphasis on wave power, both from Uppsala University.

Family: Partner and two daughters, 8 and 11 years old, as well as a rabbit.

Pastimes: Just started riding again. My therapy is otherwise jigsaw puzzles, to sit down and sort puzzle pieces is a great way to clear your head.

Reading: Lots of fantasy, like the J.R.R. Tolkien books. Definitely not crime novels, they are too scary.

Strengths: I am good at listening and interpreting and I have an ability to get a good perspective of things.

Weaknesses: I am often too kind, but that it something I have had the opportunity to work a lot with as Head of Department, haha!

If I hadn't become a researcher in electrical engineering: Now when I am a bit older, and if I would choose a new direction, I would like to be a meteorologist. I think it would be really exciting to be able to study extreme weather conditions and other phenomena.