Driving Innovation

Curiosity Pays Off for Award-Winning Engineers

June 8, 2016

When Dunk Buie and Justin Odom were children, they often asked, “How does that work?”

Now engineers at ComEd, they continue to ask that question with a higher purpose in mind: “How can I make that work to improve what we do for our customers?”

Through their projects, Dunk and Justin help ComEd reach its goals to create innovative solutions that improve customer service and achieve cost savings.

Dunk and Justin’s work has not gone unnoticed by the larger engineering community. Earlier this year, they both won Modern Day Technology Leader Awards at the 2016 Black Engineer of the Year Awards Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Conference in Philadelphia.

A lifelong fan of math and science, Dunk knew he wanted to become an engineer. He considered computer engineering, but realized electrical engineering was more interesting.

“My curiosity drew me to engineering,” Dunk recalls. “I like analyzing things to figure out the best solution to problems.”

A native of Maywood, Ill., Dunk earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his master’s in business administration from DePaul University in Chicago.

Dunk is a design manager in ComEd’s Chicago Regional Distribution Design Engineering department, where he supervises eleven engineers and provides a focus on safety, productivity, quality and development to the department.

Dunk has been promoted numerous times during his eleven years with ComEd. His projects have included designing smart switches to help reconfigure circuits and decrease customer outages during storms, identifying potential cost savings associated with the use of energy efficiency programs, and leading a grid modernization program to improve operations and power reliability.

For Justin, engineering wasn’t always on his radar.

A native of Washington, D.C., Justin came to Chicago to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). After working a few years as an architect with various engineering groups on building projects, he set his sights on a career in engineering.  Justin went back to IIT to earn a master’s degree in power engineering and has now been with ComEd for four years.

As a general engineer with the New Business Design Team, Justin works with architects to help design primary power distribution systems for buildings in the Chicago area.

“There are a lot of great ideas at ComEd, and bringing those ideas to life to help our customers and improve our services is what inspires my work,” Justin says.

Based on one of Justin’s ideas, ComEd’s Innovation Hub is developing a new application that agregates customer data into an online database that will allow ComEd to provide immediate customer feedback, catch errors, share documents and perform predictive analysis. Justin is also analyzing energy storage devices that would distribute energy more efficiently,  potentially reducing business expenses, improving system reliability and decreasing customer bills.

Despite their busy work schedules, Dunk and Justin find time to give back to their communities.

Dunk volunteers for the Life Coaches for Young Men program at Rowe Clark Math and Science Academy in Chicago, a program run by the Exelon African-American Resource Alliance.

Justin volunteers in the Stay in School Initiative, a mentoring program for high school seniors sponsored by the United Way, Exelon and ComEd, as well as GrADS, a mentoring  group for recent college graduates who have been hired by ComEd.