New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences have partnered on a $5 million National Science Foundation Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) grant for smart-grid research.
Satish Ranade, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department head, said he is looking forward working with Enrico Pontelli, Department of Computer Science head and principal investigator, on the grant for smart-grid research.
“To me the most exciting thing is the opportunity to collaborate across colleges, across departments,” Ranade said. “The people involved have amazing knowledge, expertise and passion for this kind of stuff.”
The engineering faculty members involved are Ranade; Sukumar Brahma and Hong Huang, electrical and computer engineering associate professors; and Wenxin Liu, electrical and computer engineering assistant professor. The Arts and Sciences faculty members involved include Pontelli; Son Tran, computer science professor; and William Yeoh, Huiping Cao and Satyajayant Misra, computer science assistant professors. Susan Brown, director of the NMSU STEM Outreach Center, also is involved.
The grant will be used to launch research through a newly established center called iCREDITS, short for interdisciplinary Center for Research Excellence in Design of Intelligent Technologies for Smart Grids, and will focus on intelligent technologies for smart grids.
Smart grids gather and provide information on what is going on in an electricity grid to predict patterns and help improve sustainability. Ranade said that smart grids are a combination of communications, computers and intelligent controls that lead to improvement of how electricity is moved around and improvement of efficiency, which leads to saving money and can improve reliability.
The College of Engineering is currently researching how to better control, manage and protect electricity grids, while the College of Arts & Sciences is providing expertise in modeling communication, control and data mining.
“It allows you to use what you have smarter, it allows you to design things in a smarter way and the ultimate promise is that whether an electricity customer wants to do something with the information or not, it would be nice for customers to know that right now you’re using electricity at a premium time and the cost is high,” Ranade said.
Ranade said the grant is important to both colleges in three main ways – the research and development of new concepts, the collaboration and interdisciplinary exposure for students involved with the project, and the outreach and recruiting resulting from the grant.
The grant is divided into several projects, which are focused on energy delivery, monitoring and pattern discovery, agent-based coordination and communication. Ranade said both of the departments are involved in all of the projects.
“It’s a very big partnership between the two departments,” Ranade said. “It’s going to be very, very good for both of us.”