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K-State Today

May 14, 2012

Electrical and computer engineering professor recognized with national award

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

A Kansas State University electrical and computer engineering professor has been named the recipient of national award given to those with significant contributions to the field of distribution automation.

Anil Pahwa, professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the IEEE Power and Energy Society's Douglas M. Staszesky Distribution Automation Award.  

The award is given to recognize those people in the industry who display the same energy and passion as Staszesky, who died in 2008, and who have demonstrated success in the implementation of systems that provide real benefits for electric utilities and their customers.

Award recipients are recognized with a $2,000 scholarship to the engineering school of the recipient's choice, a plaque and a travel stipend of up to $1,500 to attend the presentation ceremony. 

Pahwa was nominated by NDR Sarma of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the organization that controls the planning and control of the power distribution system in the state of Texas. Sarma had served with Pahwa on several committees within the IEEE.

Pahwa has been active with the IEEE PES Working Group on Distribution Automation for many years. He served as the group's chair from 2003-2007 and secretary from 1997-2002. He began collaborating with Staszesky, the award's namesake, in 2006 on a distribution automation tutorial. When Staszesky became ill, Pahwa finished the tutorial and presented it in collaboration with other collegues at the PES general meetings in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.

"I feel good that I was able to continue his legacy and be able to present the tutorials successfully," Pahwa said.

Pahwa has also served as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of DistribuTECH, a premier distribution automation conference, since 1990.

Pahwa worked closely with Kansas City Power & Light and Midwest Energy, from 1986-1992, on testing of field equipment, evaluation of distribution automation projects and on development of a strategic plan for implementation of distribution automation. Kansas City Power & Light used the software developed by Pahwa to prepare a business case before embarking on large-scale automation. 

Pahwa has developed innovative techniques for location of outages in distribution systems in the early 1990s. He proposed using time of loss of power at the meters installed in homes and at sensors installed at strategic locations in distribution systems to identify locations of outages. The techniques utilized knowledge-based and statistical approaches for processing the data and locating outages based on processed results.

He has also conducted pioneering work on distribution system restoration including optimal switching strategies in mitigating the effects of the enduring components of cold load pickup in emergencies. These strategies are crucial for utilities with transformers operating near the limits of their capacity and with large cooling or heating loads.

Pahwa was elected a fellow of IEEE in 2003 for contributions to power distribution system automation and restoration. He received the Eta Kappa Nu Distinguished Faculty Award from the Kansas State University chapter in 2004 and was named the Blue Key Advisor of the Year in 2008-2009. He received the Professional Performance Award from the university in 2008.

Pahwa calls receiving the Staszesky award a big honor.

"I knew Staszesky and he was a good friend," Pahwa said. "I hope I'll be able to continue his legacy and his dream of widespread deployment of distribution automation a reality in the future."