Persistence pays off

Profiling Jonathan Colby, marine energy expert and IEC Young Professional Leader

By Janice Blondeau

Participation in the IEC Young Professionals programme has been a catalyst for Jonathan Colby to become much more deeply involved in both the international standardization and conformity assessment work of the IEC.

Jonathan Colby with Young Professionals, 2013 workshop, New Delhi
Jonathan Colby with Young Professionals, 2013 workshop, New Delhi

In the beginning...with TC 114

Colby, a hydrodynamic engineer by training, was recently named the Director of Technology Performance with Verdant Power. His initial IEC involvement was as a US representative on IEC TC 114 Marine energy - Wave, tidal and other water current converters, as a subject matter expert in developing standards for the assessment of power performance for tidal energy converters.

One thing leads to another

In 2011, Colby was nominated as a US participant in the IEC Young Professionals programme and elected as one of the three IEC YP 2011 Leaders. He also participated in the YP workshops in Oslo in 2012 and New Delhi in 2013.

While observing the CAB (Conformity Assessment Board) meeting during the IEC General Meeting in Oslo, as part of the Young Professionals workshop, Colby learned of CAB WG 15 which had been set up to investigate the CA needs for the marine renewable energy industry. At the time neither Colby nor the company that he works for, a leader in the field, were aware that this was an IEC project.

Conformity Assessment in marine renewable energy

“As I sat in that CAB meeting, I was totally convinced that my company, Verdant Power, needed to be represented on that CAB working group.

“Following the observation of the CAB meeting we had lunch with the CAB members. At that lunch I specifically sought out Chris Agius, the convenor of CAB WG 15, and expressed my interest in joining it, especially because of the impact it would have both on my company and the industry in which my company is active in."

Sitting at the table brings opportunities

“Luckily they had a CAB WG 15 meeting the next day in Oslo, which I was able to attend as an observer. I was the only tidal energy developer who was sitting at the table…so I was even more convinced of the importance for my company to have me serve on CAB WG 15.”

After the General Meeting in Oslo concluded, Colby actively pursued a role in CAB WG 15 and he was nominated and elected as a subject matter expert through the US National Committee (US NC) to the IEC.

At a subsequent CAB WG 15 meeting in Singapore in early 2013, it was announced that the wind energy industry, the solar energy industry and the marine energy industry were interested in starting a new IEC Conformity Assessment System for renewable energy.

IECRE involvement

Colby again expressed interest in participating in the development of the new System. Since then, the CAB has accepted the proposal from WG 15 to develop IECRE, the new IEC CA (Conformity Assessment) System for Renewable Energy.  As a member of the IECRE Forum, Colby supported the development of the IECRE Basic Rules.  He is also active with the US NC developing a Member Body to the new IECRE, in conjunction with the solar PV and wind sectors in the US.

“When I started I was only working on TC 114, serving as a subject matter expert on an individual project team. Since that time and in great part due to the IEC YP programme, my role in the IEC has expanded significantly.”

Today, Colby is a member of the CAB WG 15 as a subject matter expert, and he is convenor of an ahG (ad hoc Group) in TC 114 on the work for which he is a subject matter expert. He is also convenor of a Project Team within TC 114 on river energy.  Further, Colby has been elected as the Technical Administrator (TA) for the US Technical Advisory Group, effective 4Q, 2014.  As TA, he will represent the United States as Head of Delegates at TC114 meetings and lead the activities within the United States.

Advice for up-and-comers

“If I had to give one piece of advice to Young Professionals and up-and-coming experts in the IEC, it would be that the ability to participate and become engaged is a function of the effort that you put into it.

“I would really encourage other YPs and people new to the IEC to find out what they are interested in and really push to be involved. It’s your own self-motivation that’s one of the most important tools you can utilize to get involved.”

Young Professionals programme opens doors

“The IEC Young Professionals programme has opened an incredible number of doors for me. I’ve become much more engaged both at national committee level and at the IEC level. With my experience, I’ve been encouraged to take on significant leadership roles at the IEC and within the United States and as a result, I’ve been able to elevate the global visibility of the marine energy industry.”

Colby notes that access to management of the IEC, to the members of IEC governing bodies, as well as to members of standards bodies in the US are all opportunities that have resulted from his participation in the IEC Young Professionals programme.

Colby was also awarded the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Next Generation Award (2012), which honours individuals who have been engaged in standardization or conformity assessment activities for less than eight years and who have, during this time, demonstrated vision, leadership, dedication, and significant contributions to their chosen field of activity.

Gallery
Jonathan Colby with Young Professionals, 2013 workshop, New Delhi Jonathan Colby with Young Professionals, 2013 workshop, New Delhi
A subject matter expert in standards for the assessment of power performance for tidal...(Photo: Verdant Power) A subject matter expert in standards for the assessment of power performance for tidal...(Photo: Verdant Power)
...energy converters, Colby is active within TC 114, CAB WG 15 and the IEC YP programme (Photo: Verdant Power) ...energy converters, Colby is active within TC 114, CAB WG 15 and the IEC YP programme (Photo: Verdant Power)