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K-State Today

June 18, 2012

Powerful projects: Electrical power affiliates program supports engineering research

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Six faculty research projects have received funding from Kansas State University's Electrical Power Affiliates Program, or EPAP. The projects will involve student researchers and provide valuable insight for the engineering industry.

The program supports student and faculty activities through a partnership with four companies: Westar Energy, Burns and McDonnell, Nebraska Public Power District and Omaha Public Power District. Noel Schulz, Paslay professor of electrical and computer engineering and the university's first lady, directs the program.

Financial support from the four companies sponsors student travel to industry facilities, student presentations at conferences and research that connects to the needs of power affiliates members. It supports undergraduate and graduate student projects and extends opportunities for internships and future employment opportunities in the power field.

The projects and their principal investigators include:

* "Developing Power-Related Lab Experiences in an Introductory Course," Shelli Starrett, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. The project will focus on developing power-related laboratory exercises and kits for the College of Engineering's Introduction to Electrical Engineering course for beginning students.

* "Smart Grid Communication, Control and Cyber Security Analysis and Experimentation on GENI," Caterina Scoglio, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Don Gruenbacher, associate professor and head of the department of electrical and computer engineering. The project addresses some key issues to allow rigorous experimentation and analysis of smart grid networking solutions in the real-world environment that incorporates resources from the Smart Grid Lab at Kansas State University and Global Environment for Network Innovations OpenFlow networking resources.

* "Power Affiliate Efficiency Intern Program," David Carter, intern program coordinator and pollution prevention specialist with the university' Pollution Prevention Institute; Bruce Snead, director of the university's Engineering Extension; and Nancy Larson, director of the university's Pollution Prevention Institute. The Kansas State Pollution Prevention Institute will enhance its existing internship program with two students who will work for 10 weeks with different electric utility customers, focusing solely on identifying energy efficiency projects and calculating energy and cost savings to justify implementation of the projects.

* "Grid-Tied PV Integrated Boost Inverter," Behrooz Mirafzal, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. This research will develop a Photovoltaic-integrated single-stage boost-inverter, which will use the topology of the current-source inverter and employ a novel switching pattern as an alternative to the existing PV-based grid-tied inverter architectures such as multistage converters, multilevel inverters and micro-inverters.

* "Holonic Multi-Agent Control of Intelligent Power Distribution Systems," Sanjoy Das, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Anil Pahwa, professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Scott DeLoach, professor of computing and information sciences. The Electrical Power Affiliates Program funding supplements a $1.1 million National Science Foundation-funded project to create a Holonic Multi-Agent System, or HMAS, software architecture to control future electrical power distribution systems. The power affiliates funding will be used to develop an extensive software platform to integrate the Holonic Multi-Agent System with computer models of the power distribution system.

* "Wind Turbine Power Capture Optimization Using Improved Estimation in the Presence of Non-uniform Wind Flow," Warren White, associate professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering. The project will determine ways to improve the real-time estimation of the aerodynamic torque delivered to the rotor of wind turbines by predicting and adjusting to the near future airflow to be seen by the turbine.