Helping Young Engineers Look to the Future

Radoslav Barac (MPM '03) wouldn't be where he is today without Northwestern Engineering's Master of Project Management (MPM) program, which is why he makes a point to pay it forward to current and future MPM students.

When Radoslav Barac came to the United States from Yugoslavia in 1988, he didn’t speak English. He had a background in electrical engineering and hoped to learn more about the trade while picking up the language used in his new land. 

Now, more than three decades later, Barac has done both of those things and beyond. He serves as a senior project engineer for GE Grid Solutions, where he is a professional engineer licensed to work in all 50 states. Based in Park Ridge, Illinois, Barac credits his time spent in Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Project Management (MPM) program for much of his success. It was in MPM where he learned a host of valuable skills — from strategies for overseeing complete projects from start to finish to understanding how to best manage multiple projects simultaneously — that helped his career flourish.

“Everything I learned in the MPM program has some influence on my work,” said Barac (MPM '03). “Estimating and scheduling a new project, negotiating terms and conditions, forming a project team, being part of a project dispute — everything I learned in MPM, I use today.”

Barac does a little bit of everything in his role at GE Grid Solutions, which merges technology with engineering expertise to help provide renewable energy for its customers. Barac is responsible for overseeing projects at every location where his company does business. In addition, Barac does electrical substation projects for major utilities across North America, helping to keep the renewable energy installations running at maximum efficiency. That includes overseeing the engineering and construction of wind and solar farms, creating the work schedules for the projects, and ultimately making sure everything is done in accordance with the latest industry standard and state laws.

“GE is a manufacturing company, but clients would like GE to provide turn-key services,” Barac said. “GE has to act as an engineering company, hire contractors, and give clients a complete product. That’s a challenge to put all that together and for me to oversee the engineering services. We not only make the products, but install and integrate them into the system and connect with the client.”

Along with his work, Barac has always felt it important to pay it forward, taking what he learned and helping pass it to the next generation. He used to help write questions for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam while serving on the committee that helped make and oversee the full PE exam. Currently, Barac volunteers to educate young professionals on the benefits of furthering their engineering education, and is a member of the GE Grid Solution professional group, where he and his peers discuss their challenges in the workplace and support each other to work out issues. 

In 2019, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power and Energy Society Chicago Chapter gave Barac its Outstanding Engineer Award for his dedication to engineering of service. 

Barac also works with current MPM students to share his knowledge of renewable energy.

“Being connected to the MPM program by doing seminar presentations and reviewing final reports that are related to my expertise in renewable power and electrical energy gives me great joy," Barac said. “I’m glad that I’m able to give back to my profession and my community.”

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