The Team

sharing their technology

Designed to share the evolving technology trends and industry’s best practices, the COMET team brings the brightest minds across the globe together annually to educate power maintenance professionals and decision-makers on how to best deploy reliable solutions for the future.

The brightest minds in electrical asset management.

LEADING industry experts

The reliability of electric power from generation to delivery is ranked as the number one concern for any global electric power company. COMET’s host committee is comprised of top industry experts with a common goal to drive innovation and efficiency within the electrical asset industry.

Driving innovation and efficiency within the industry.

Meet the HOST COMMITTEE

Dr. Robert Hebner

Dr. Robert Hebner

COMET Conference Chair

Bob’s current projects include improved hybrid vehicles, energy storage, Smart Grid, and microgrids. Before joining the University, Bob spent a significant portion of his career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), beginning in a postdoctoral position and ultimately serving as acting Director. He also served in the Office of Management and Budget, at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and, for a short time, did research at Sandia National Laboratory. At NIST, an early responsibility was to modify the US system for watthour meter calibration from the traditional analog meters to supporting the emerging digital metering. This reduced the cost of maintaining accuracy by millions of dollars and removed an impediment to the adoption of the smart meters that are widely used today.

In 2013, he was the vice president of the IEEE for Technical Activities. The IEEE is a global technical society in computing and electrotechnology with more than 400,000 members. In that position, he had oversight responsibility for such activities as Smart Grid, Smart Cities, and Transportation Electrification. He has had senior management experience with responsibility for an annual budget approaching one billion dollars, but maintained a technical focus. He has a Ph.D. and coauthored more than one hundred and fifty technical papers and reports.

Alan Ross

Alan Ross

COMET Conference Co-Chair

Alan Ross is the Vice President of Reliability at SD Myers, Inc. in Tallmadge, Ohio. He is responsible for developing and executing long-term reliability strategies and next generation leadership for all operating units, both domestically and internationally.

Alan often presents at industry conferences and has authored several trade publication articles on transformer maintenance and reliability, including articles featured in Solutions and Uptime magazines and has written two books: Unconditional Excellence and Beyond World Class.

He completed his undergraduate work in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and MBA in Marketing from Georgia State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Thomas Linn

Thomas Linn

COMET Conference Co-Chair

Thomas graduated from the Technical University of Dresden with a degree in Electrical Engineering, specialized in High Voltage Techniques. In 1998 he joined ABB in Switzerland and was responsible for high voltage onsite testing for GIS and cables, PD measurements onsite and PD monitoring of Gas Insulated Switchgear.

Afterwards he worked for 10 years with high voltage transformer bushings and became a senior technical expert for high voltage techniques and equipment. In March 2013 Thomas joined Qualitrol as Technical Application Specialist. As a TAS, Thomas is able to leverage 20+ years of experience in high voltage equipment such as GIS, high voltage bushings, cables, transformers, high voltage testing, partial discharge measurement and monitoring, and high voltage test equipment.

Thomas is a member of CIGRE and IEC TC42 in Switzerland and is contributing as an expert to different CIGRE Working Groups internationally.

MEET THE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Scott Scheferman

Scott Scheferman

COMET 2019 Keynote Speaker

Scott Scheferman’s thought leadership on AI and Cyber Security are sought after by executives seeking to address the modern threat landscape, and in particular the velocity and automation associated with today’s fast moving campaigns. He is well known in the security community and within local CISO communities for talks addressing AI, machine-speed threats, overall strategic prioritizations, Threat Intelligence, and lessons learned from the IR front lines.

Mr. Scheferman brings several decades of cyber security experience; having lead a team of 25 security analysts supporting 800 security validators assessing risk on over 2600 DoD/IC/Federal systems per year ranging from 900,000 seat enterprises to stand-alone satellite control systems. As Sr. Director of Worldwide Services, he currently supports over 100 consultants and PM’s across all practices globally.

He resides in the Woodlands, TX, enjoys fast Italian cars, produces live hardware techno tracks, and won Kingpin’s first ever DefCon badge-hacking contest…even though he was unaware there was even a contest underway. 

Raiford Smith

Raiford Smith

COMET 2019 Keynote Speaker

Raiford and his team lead Entergy’s pursuit of new technologies such as big data analytics, Distributed Energy Resources, and the development of new products and services.

Mr. Smith has 28 years of experience in the energy industry, including various roles in analytics, smart grid, customer, regulatory, legal, planning, wholesale trading, mergers and acquisitions, and technology.

A native of Savannah, GA., Mr. Smith earned a BS degree in computer science from the University of Georgia, an MBA from the University of Virginia, and a Juris Doctor from the Charlotte School of Law.

Mr. Smith is a licensed attorney and member of the North Carolina Bar Association; holds several patents on grid technologies; has published several papers on analytics, the smart grid, energy efficiency, asset optimization, and price forecasting; is a member of the SEPA board, and is an advisory board member for Google, SAS, Intel, Tendril, and RTI.

Amir Makki

Amir Makki

COMET 2019 Keynote Speaker

Amir Makki is the Chairman and Cofounder of Softstuf, Inc. (established in 1992). Amir has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Tech University, and pursued his Ph.D. studies in Artificial Intelligence at Temple University.

His main interest is modeling and analysis of fault and disturbance conditions in bulk electrical systems. He is extensively published and holds a number of U.S. patents and trademarks. Amir is a senior member of IEEE and is an active member of the Power Systems Relay Committee of the Power and Energy Society.

His contributions include leading a number of standards development activities including IEEE Standards C37.232 (COMNAME), C37.111 (COMTRADE), and the Cyber Security Task Force for Protection Related Data Files.