Meet Lars, the rock’n roll doctor

Oct 29, 2018 | Story

Q&A with Lars Press Petersen

Some people play an instrument really well. Other people know all about sound and power conversion from a scientific point of view. And then there are these rare cases of people who do both. Lars Press Petersen is one of them. The Chief Technology Officer of Power Supplies at ICEpower is an avid bass player, AND he’s got a Ph.D. in power electronics. Meet the rock’n roll doctor here.

1. Hi Lars, we know you have a busy schedule, so thanks for taking your time. Can you explain to us when and how your passion for sound and audio reproduction began?
I started out singing in the school choir from the age of 9 followed by piano lessons for a couple of years. I also started taking apart old radios and amplifiers and reused parts to “extend” my sound system. The real musical breakthrough came a bit later. In high school, I was introduced to a much wider range of music genres, and I began playing the bass in a local rock band. We felt a bit like rockstars touring the local bars and discoes. I really have fun memories of this time. Of course, playing music in front of an audience is a fantastic feeling, but also everything related to doing a show. All the gear – speakers, amplifiers, effects, mixers, and so on.

2. Sounds nice being a teenage rockstar. What is your educational background?
I studied at the Technical University of Denmark. I have a Master degree in Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. degree in Power Electronics.

3. Can you reveal to us, what projects you’re working on at ICEpower at the moment?
I’m working on several projects at the moment for different segments in the market. As a strategic technology partner, it is very important to our customers that they can trust us with their secrets. We take customer confidentiality very seriously, so I cannot disclose details of projects we are currently working on.

4. On average, how much time does it take between a client asks for an ICEpower solution till the final product is shipped?
3 to 6 months – no, I’m kidding. This is my standard answer when asked. I do this to create a mindset focusing on how we can solve our next challenge in an effective way. I know it sounds a bit corny, but let’s not reinvent the wheel every time. As part of the engineering race, I know how easy it is to be fascinated by new and exciting technology. As a technology company, we need to be at the forefront and prepare the technology for tomorrow. But we also need to deliver projects on time and on cost today. So, we try to separate research into new technologies from our normal development projects to better manage risks in terms of schedule and cost.
Well back to your question: I don’t have a single number but a range – 6 months to 2 years, depending on the required solution.

5. Can you sum up your greatest breakthrough in the scientific aspect of your work?
Greatest breakthrough … these are big words! I’m sorry to say, that I am not up for any Nobel prize any time soon. But a couple of things I’m proud of is being part of the team that originally came up with the PSU concept for the ICEpower ASX Series. Many of our competitors have looked this way for inspiration, I’m sure. On a personal level, I think the 3 years as a Ph.D.-student gave me a unique opportunity to take a deep dive into understanding power conversion. This ballast has proven very valuable in my professional career.

6. To our surprise Lars, we’ve seen photos of you playing the bass guitar. Does it help you in your line of work, that you can approach sound and audio from a scientist’s POV, AND from a musician’s POV?
It definitely helps to know this business from more than one side. In many cases, what the engineer sees as the biggest problem/challenge is seldom what the end user sees as the main problem. So, having knowledge about the use case of the products we do is a strong point. We normally have a very good and intensive dialogue with our customers to ensure, that we create the products they want. But once in a while details that may be a given from our customers’ point of view could slip, if we did not know the actual use cases. We are fortunate at ICEpower, that we have several people that know the business from both POVs.

7. Tell us about the band you’re playing in. I see some well-known faces from the ICEpower HQ.
Yes, we have put together an ICEpower band. It is purely on an amateur basis but it is a lot of fun. Everybody can join. At the moment we are 3 guitarists, a drummer and a bass player (me). In the absence of a lead vocalist, I have been doing that also.

8. Does the ICEpower-band have a name? Sound Doctors? Engineers & Beers? The PhD’s? Anything in that line?
I like your suggestions, but at the moment we go by the not so inventive name of ICEband.

9. You guys sound like a cool bunch. Any forthcoming releases or touring?
Not at the moment. Hopefully, we can land a gig at the HQ office.

10. We know that ICEpower is a very popular company to work for among engineering students. How do you land a job at ICEpower?
Well, we are always looking for talents. We of course look for academically strong candidates, but in our line of work, practical experience of lab work is also something we value!

Thank you, Lars!

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