Department of Engineering Science

Faisal Wahid

Bachelor of Engineering Honours (BE) in Engineering Science (2012)

Photograph of Faisal Wahid

PhD Candidate (2013)
Department of Engineering Science, UoA


I was hooked into modelling - the mathematical kind - in my final year of high school. I still remember attending the MAXX program and having Andrew Pullan teach us about multivariable calculus, and how it can be used to model human organs.

It was in my final year of EngSci that I found my passion for using maths to understand how we manage our rivers to generate electricity. My Part IV project was modelling the Waitaki River Scheme in order to determine if disaggregating the ownership of the hydro stations Tekapo A and Tekapo B would lead to mismanagement of one of our most precious resources, water.

The project gave me my first exposure into New Zealand’s electricity market, and got me hooked into this field. The notion that one can trade electricity like trading stocks in Wall Street was strange and exciting to me. Adding to this excitement was the fact that there was an optimisation model of behemoth scale being used to dispatch electricity to New Zealanders every half hour.

It was natural that after graduating I went to work for Mighty River Power as a Trading Analyst. My day to day role involved carrying quantitative and qualitative analysis on the operations of Mighty River Power’s generation portfolio and New Zealand’s electricity market. Some of the highlights were working on models for producing optimal offers into the market, and models to efficiently operate hydro stations.

However my passion was always in hydro-river chain modelling, so I’m back to do a PhD. It focuses on developing models for optimising our rivers. This is in conjunction with EPOC and the Ecole Polytechnique in France. I am hoping to use stochastic models to capture the complexity of deciding how best to produce electricity from our waters, given the uncertain view of the future surrounding the state of the rivers and the state of the market.

My future ambition is to understand the dynamics of rivers around the world with respect to electricity production, resource management and the economics of water.