Ron Widup, Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, and Senior Advisor, Technical Services at Shermco Industries, kept the mystery alive before he revealed the 2023 recipient of NETA’s Alliance Recognition Award at PowerTest 2023.
“This year’s recipient is someone who has been well received here at PowerTest as well as throughout the industry,” Widup began. “Over the last 17 years, he has been a participant in the IEEE Transformer Committee, serving as chair of the FRA Working Group C57.149. He has authored many technical papers that have appeared in various technical journals, including NETA World, and has been a highly regarded and frequent speaker at PowerTest. He is an authority on condition assessment of power apparatus and partial discharge.”
“In addition to all of that,” Widup continued, “this person continually supports testing companies and the industry. He recently assisted NETA’s NAMO chair with a very well-received presentation to the Navy Muse group in California. He took the extra trouble to source the exact equipment the group uses and provided specific training for them.”
Sweetser says he has always attended the PowerTest Luncheon as a NETA CAP member, so it was just business as usual until he realized what was happening. “I was very surprised, and it was the last thing I expected,” he says. “I felt honored to be recognized.”
Jim Cialdea, CEO of Sigma C, had the honor of presenting the award. “Charles Sweetser is an all-around great guy,” he says. “He is very knowledgeable, but also so approachable and generous with his time and experience. A strong supporter of our industry for many years, he has been involved with NETA by presenting papers and attending PowerTest and contributing to IEEE. I was very pleased to see him receive the Alliance Recognition Award.”
Charles Sweetser joined OMICRON electronics Corp USA in 2009 and is the PRIM Engineering Services Manager for North America. A 25-year veteran of the testing industry, Sweetser supports apparatus testing for many types of devices, including transformers and circuit breakers. Before joining OMICRON, he worked for 13 years in the electrical apparatus diagnostic and consulting business.
“I was fortunate to start my career in the electrical testing industry,” Sweetser says. He has held several roles, all in the substation discipline. “I started as an Electrical Testing Application Engineer supporting substation equipment,” he recalls. “This included application support and training. Still focusing on electrical testing and diagnostics, I moved into product development and product management. Now, coming almost full circle as the Engineering Services Manager, I manage, mentor, and foster a group that focuses on electrical testing and diagnostics of substation equipment. I hope that they have as great an experience as I have had over the years.”
“It is my pleasure to work with Chuck here at OMICRON. He is a treasured member of the OMICRON family and much appreciated by us all,” says Derek Brown, North American Regional Manager at OMICRON. “Chuck brings with him a wealth of technical knowledge and experience, and he consistently looks for ways to share this knowledge for the benefit of others. As a coach, he works rigorously to ensure his team has all knowledge and support they need to operate efficiently, effectively, and most importantly safely in the complex world of power system testing and monitoring.”
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Charles Sweetser for 30 years,” explains Wayne Bishop, currently Quanta Technology Vice President and Vice President, Conferences, of the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES).“Chuck has been one of my closest friends and colleagues in the industry. We worked together at Doble in the 1990s and joined OMICRON electronics in 2009 when we opened their Boston-area office. I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Chuck to receive NETA’s Alliance Recognition Award. He embodies everything this award stands for and represents it well.”
“Chuck is truly an inspirational team member, and his receipt of the NETA Alliance Recognition Award is a testament to his dedication and hard work,” notes Brown. “The team here at OMICRON is delighted to see him receive this well-deserved recognition from the industry.”
Parisa Jalalipour,Regional Marketing Manager — North America at OMICRON, says she enjoys a great working relationship with Sweetser. “Charles is a team player and is always willing to support our marketing team,” she says. “I have known him for 10-plus years and have learned so much from him. I have always worked with Charles on our events and supported his team with marketing needs. In my new role as Marketing Manager, I continue to learn from him and have received quite a bit of insight from Charles on leading a team. I am grateful to have someone like Charles who has so much knowledge to share.”
“Chuck has a great dedication to the customers and peers we serve in the industry,” adds Brown. “He always goes the extra mile to ensure those in need have the support and answers required to meet their goals and will ensure you have his cell phone number for the next questions that come to mind.”
Dave Stelmach, National Sales Manager, US and Canada, for OMICRON electronics, has known Sweetser for 18 years — since his first job out of college. “Chuck is a long-time colleague and good friend of mine,” Stelmach reflects. “We have worked very closely over the years, and he has provided extraordinary support to me. Chuck has been a mentor and has helped shape the person I have become as a professional.”
NETA has always held a special place in Sweetser’s heart, Bishop remembers. “He has been active with NETA since the 1990s and is a huge proponent of PowerTest.
Dan Hook, President of CBS Field Services, says, “Charles has been a constant contributor to NETA for as long as I can remember. His entire career has been spent with Doble and OMICRON, and he has provided invaluable support to NETA’s Accredited Companies (NACs) and NETA Technicians. During the annual PowerTest conference, Charles always gives at least one presentation, and they are in depth. He puts in an enormous amount of effort to ensure his technical skills are as complete and accurate as possible.”
“I have been attending PowerTest for two decades now,” Sweetser says. “It is my favorite and most valued annual event. Each year, I submit and contribute to papers and tutorials for PowerTest. I also review and ballot the ANSI/NETA ATS and ANSI/NETA MTS standards during revisions.”
Recently, NETA was asked to provide specialized training on voltage regulators for the NETA Approved Military Organization (NAMO) program. “Charles was approached to see if he would be willing to support, and he accepted almost immediately and got to work,” Hook recalls. “It would have been reasonable for him to present some theory and nice photos along with some testing routines for this piece of equipment, but Charles went much further. Traveling across the country, from Maine to California, Charles arranged onsite time with test equipment and a test specimen to learn more in-depth, gather real-world data, and include findings in the formal presentations to the sailors who are part of the MUSE Activity in Port Hueneme. Charles’s dedication to technical excellence, with a focus on field practicality, is invaluable to our technicians and to the industry as a whole.”
“Growth, recruitment, and retention are the big issues that I see for NETA companies,” Sweetser says. “As an industry, we must continue to promote and recruit talent to meet the growing demand. In the world of engineering career choices, our industry historically has not been seen as glamorous. However, I believe that image is changing. New challenges such as efficiency, security, reliability, resiliency, and renewables are driving positive technological changes. Our industry and especially NETA companies need to embrace these changes and provide the best training and opportunities for entry-level as well as existing professionals.”
Sweetser’s reputation extends to other companies in the electrical testing industry, and he is well known for his ability to share expertise and knowledge. He admits he has always focused on the training aspect in and around electrical testing. “We work in a very specialized industry that believes in the exchange of knowledge. Even though I am often in the instructor role, I am constantly learning from everyone involved in the process. Experience is the best teacher. I spent a significant amount of time in the field, and it was essential in my early development.”
“I first met Charles when he was working for Doble Engineering Company and was participating in the IEEE Transformers Committee as a transformer testing subject matter expert,” remembers Thomas Prevost, Vice President, Technology & Innovation at Weidmann Group. “Later, Charles invited me to visit his new company to demonstrate a new testing device they had developed. I was so impressed by OMICRON and the enthusiasm Charles had about the company that I joined them a few months later. Charles taught me many aspects of transformer testing.”
As a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) for over 20 years, Sweetser actively participates in the IEEE Transformers Committee and is Chair of the FRA Working Group PC57.149. He has published several technical papers for IEEE and other industry forums. “We expect to publish the newly revised FRA Guide within the next year,” he says. “I also enjoy participating in several other working groups and subcommittees regarding testing recommendations.”
“Chuck is a long-time volunteer with IEEE PES and is always willing to give his time to promote the great things happening in our industry. He is someone you can count on to get the job done,”Bishop says. “Whenever I need advice on something or a sounding board, I call upon Chuck. He has the highest ethics and integrity, is always professional, and above all else is a true gentleman. I have enjoyed traveling thousands of miles with Chuck for work trips in North America and around the world. Chuck is a master at giving presentations and is always willing to take the time to pass on his knowledge and expertise by mentoring the next generation of industry workers.”
“Chuck is a lead-by-example person and can set a very high bar we all strive to achieve,” Stelmach notes. “One of his best attributes is his teaching and communication skills. He has always been able to help others through his ability to teach people in a way that translates for them and allows the person to learn. Chuck goes above and beyond for everyone, which reflects his passion and dedication. He has vast knowledge and experience, and he continues to share it with everyone.”
“I admire many things about Charles,” Prevost adds. “Charles is a giver when it comes to sharing his knowledge. No matter what the circumstances, Charles will take the time and effort to explain the technical details of a test and the relevance of the results. I often joked that Charles should be a university professor, but he also knows how to have fun. He enjoys his work, and his enjoyment is infectious to those around him. When I picture Charles, I always think of him with a big grin on his face.”
ADVICE FOR THE FUTURE
“Staying involved and finding time for what is important is key,” Sweetser says. “As time goes on additional responsibilities follow, whether it be family or career. Focus on what’s important; communication, balance, and transparency are key components when facing challenges.”
“If I were to advise someone starting out in our industry, I would stress the value of hands-on field experience,” Sweetser says. “Investing your best efforts, time, and energy in all that you do will result in not only a sense of personal achievement but also industry recognition. Do not expect to be fast-tracked to the top. Learning and development take time, and it is a two-way street. Teach others along your learning journey. I always believed that the one in the room who is learning the most is the one who is preparing and presenting the lesson. Take advantage of those opportunities.”
MEET CHARLES “CHUCK” SWEETSER
Charles Sweetser joined OMICRON electronics Corp USA in 2009 and presently holds the position of PRIM Engineering Services Manager for North America. Before joining OMICRON, he worked for 13 years in the electrical apparatus diagnostic and consulting business. He has published several technical papers for IEEE and other industry forums.
As a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) for 18 years, he actively participates in the IEEE Transformers Committee and is Chair of the FRA Working Group PC57.149. He is also a member of several other working groups and subcommittees.
Sweetser’s additional interests include condition assessment of power apparatus and partial discharge. He received a BS in electrical engineering in 1992 and an MS in electrical engineering in 1996 from the University of Maine, where he was involved with the IEEE Student Chapter.