Meet Karla Kvaternik: Imagination Builder

Monday, December 3, 2018 1:42 pm EST


Karla Kvaternik, Research, Siemens Corporate Technology

Editor’s Note: Karla Kvaternik is a Cyberphysical Systems Research Scientist in Siemens Corporate Technology. Here she shares what drew her to engineering and what motivates her to apply her talent at Siemens. To read more #FutureMakers stories, visit and

I have always really enjoyed mathematics. I like the crispness of reasoning and lack of ambiguity. This began back when I was a curious kid who took apart my toys and also my parents’ electronics, much to their dismay. In college, I was drawn to applied mathematics. But I found a great home in engineering.

Now, as a Cyberphysical Systems Research Scientist in Siemens Corporate Technology, I’m excited to come into work each day because I’m involved with projects that have the potential for a real impact on society. Corporate Technology is very dynamic, and the culture is very team-oriented, very collaborative. My colleagues and I do our best to make a project come to fruition. And Siemens as a company has a lot of reach—it has the ability to make things happen.

For a long time, I thought I wanted to be an academic. But once I came to Siemens and got the flavor of industry research, I realized I wouldn’t go back to academia.

Right now, my team and I are working with a university to develop a prototype for transactive energy systems. We're trying to integrate blockchain technologies into that system to enable a free, open market at the distribution level. This is really important because our grid infrastructure is getting old and outages are becoming increasingly frequent as we try to integrate more and more renewables and distributed generation. Producing a demonstration of the concept of transactive energy would be very cool because it has the potential to drastically alter the relationship that society has to energy: energy becomes something that you and I can produce and trade, and this can really expedite progress, especially in developing countries.

I’m also really excited to be able to apply the theoretical results and distributed algorithms I developed throughout my doctorate to real-world problems, and to help expand the research portfolio of my group, Business Analytics and Monitoring, Predictive Analytics (BAM PDA). We’re working on distributed analytics and fault detection, with potential applications in power systems and building technologies. Distributed algorithms are essentially interaction rules or protocols designed to help a bunch of abstract modules, processing units, or substations coordinate their behavior.

Out of that interaction, various global, collective desired behaviors emerge in a way that looks like there's a centralized coordinator but there isn't. This is useful in problem settings where, for example, there might be a lot of data that’s valuable for processing but its spread over a wide geographic area.

Such data-processing ability is a key factor for the way that Siemens’ researchers build things.

Even if your work is totally digital, you’re still building something. When I think about young people who are considering a STEM career, and, in particular, a career at Siemens, I would tell them that such a career could offer major opportunities to build what is inside their imagination, to make something happen, and to make something work.

All that building and creating, using mathematics and tech, will produce things that we can’t yet imagine but that will be really important for many, many people, potentially the entire world.


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