Student Research

Electrical Power Affiliates Program funds award-winning graduate research

Two Kansas State University engineering students recently conducted award-winning wind research with the help of funding from the Electrical Power Affiliates Program (EPAP).

Sakshi Pahwa, doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering from India, focused her recently completed master's project on how Kansas wind and other distributed energy sources can prevent major power outages. Her project, "Distributed Sources and Islanding to Mitigate Cascading Failures in Power Grid Networks," was a winner at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka, Kan.

Viet Nguyen, a May 2011 master's graduate in mechanical engineering from Phillipsburg, Kan., focused his master's project on the effects of turbulence caused by trees and buildings near small-scale wind turbines. Nguyen's research took third place in the graduate student poster session at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers' Power and Energy Society's Transmission and Distribution Conference in New Orleans. Nguyen was awarded $500 and an internship opportunity in the industry's energy sector.

For his project, Nguyen worked under Zhongquan "Charlie" Zheng, former K-State assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering. He also worked with Ruth Douglas Miller and Bala Natarajan, both associate professors of electrical and computer engineering.

Pahwa's project co-advisers include Caterina Scoglio, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Noel Schulz, Paslay professor of electrical and computer engineering and K-State's first lady. Pahwa is continuing this work for her doctoral research under Scoglio and Miller.

For data collection and testing purposes, the researchers used K-State's wind turbine north of campus as well as four other wind turbines installed at the Riley County Public Works facility.

The university turbine was installed for Wind for Schools, a project led by Miller, director of the Kansas Wind Application Center. The Riley County wind turbines were installed for the Resourceful Kansas project, a cooperative effort between Miller, Scoglio, Riley County and the Kansas City-based consulting firm GBA, and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.