Alumni profile: Ivan Rudnick, 2020 Best Thesis winner
Ivan Rudnick’s research, which earned him TPP’s Best Thesis Award for 2020, offers insights into designing energy policies that could help India achieve its decarbonization goals. Since graduating in June, he is working in an energy consulting firm in Chile that focuses on conducting studies in electricity and gas markets. His role is to find new businesses by searching for new consulting opportunities in Chile and the rest of Latin America. He is also exploring new niches in consulting that are emerging due to constant changes in the electricity regulatory framework.
What is the focus of your research? What sort of knowledge and disciplines does it bring together? How will it make an impact?
My research was focused in analyzing different pathways to the decarbonization of India’s power grid by 2037. Using the capacity expansion model “GenX,” developed internally at MIT by TPP alumni, I studied several scenarios considering different technology costs and gas prices, and defining different emissions limits. My work also addressed the policy implications for each potential scenario. I conducted my research under the supervision of Audun Botterud, Pablo Duenas-Martinez, and Carlos Battle.
This research brought together a variety of disciplines, all related to electricity markets. It required a deep understanding of how electricity markets work and their technical and economic challenges. It also required knowledge in policy-making and the effect of implementing policies in the development of the power sector. Finally, it required an understanding of finance, especially how investors consider factors such as expected profitability and rate of returns.
Before my research was conducted, there was no public study that provided a long-term analysis while addressing future uncertainty in India’s power sector development. My research can provide vital insights that could help Indian regulators when designing policies, and help them achieve India’s decarbonization goals in a cost-effective and reliable way.
Why did you choose to come to TPP?
My academic and work experiences span multiple fields, including engineering, finance, electricity markets, and policy-making. I graduated as an Industrial Engineer with a diploma in Transport Studies, started working in an investment firm, and then later in an electric power generation company. I wanted to pursue a graduate degree that allowed me to combine my diverse knowledge and background. I was particularly interested in combining my recent experience in electricity markets with policy-making and regulation.
The TPP program has a flexible curriculum that includes core courses related to technology and policy, but that allows you to choose elective courses. In my case, I took mostly energy-related courses, many of them focused in the regulation of electricity markets.
When looking at the TPP curriculum, I realized it was the ideal place for me to continue exploring my interests and developing my capabilities. Before coming to TPP, I had heard many positive comments about the program, mainly coming from Chilean alumni. Surprisingly, in almost every year there is a Chilean student in the TPP cohort. I had to continue with the tradition.
What do you enjoy about living in Cambridge? What do you like about the MIT community? What do you do in your spare time?
It took several months for me and my wife to get used to Cambridge. We had some culture shock getting used to living in a new country. And six years after graduating from college, I had to get used to studying again.
However, once I got used to life in Cambridge, we had a great time! I am grateful of all the friends I was lucky to make, the diverse and unique activities I participated in, and the amazing professors and speakers I was lucky to meet. MIT is very unique. You can meet people from all around the world, who have different views, and they all excel at their fields and are eager to contribute to improve the world we live in.
Boston is a very special place to me, as my daughter Sara was born there. I really miss the atmosphere around Cambridge and Boston, and the places I had the pleasure to visit. I really miss walking around the city, and not needing a car. I miss simple and mundane things I did during my spare time, such as running around the Charles, riding a bike through the esplanade, spending the afternoon in Boston Common, walking across the Longfellow Bridge, and having a coffee and pastry at Tatte Bakery.