Day: June 7, 2013

Bruce Mork Named Wiitanen Professor of Electric Power Systems

Bruce Mork, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been named the Dennis Wiitanen Professor of Electric Power Systems.

The Wiitanen Professorship was established to honor longtime ECE faculty member Dennis Wiitanen, who retired in May 2012. Unlike most professorships, which are named for a single donor, the Wiitanen Professorship is supported by an endowment underwritten by a variety of industry, foundation, and alumni sources, including ITC Holdings, Consumers Energy Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation and electrical engineering alumnus David Brule.

Mork was named to the position after a yearlong selection process. He received high praise from leaders in the power industry and was unanimously supported by the major sponsors of the professorship.

“Bruce is the natural choice for the Wiitanen Professorship,” said Dan Fuhrmann, chair of electrical and computer engineering. “He has been a leader in teaching, research and curriculum development in the power and energy area within the ECE department and across campus for many years. He is a leading expert in power system protection, an area of critical need in the utility power industry as our infrastructure transitions to the smart grid. Plus, he was the driving force behind our online courses in power and energy, a model for the rest of the department and indeed the rest of the University.”

Dennis Wiitanen was also gratified by Mork’s appointment.

“I have had the pleasure of watching Bruce grow from a newly minted PhD assistant professor at Michigan Tech to an internationally recognized leader in the power field,” he said. “I am very pleased that he will be the first recipient of the professorship carrying my name.”

Bruce Mork was honored in his acceptance.

“It’s been a privilege to work with Dennis over the last 21 years of his outstanding 42 year career at Michigan Tech. He’s been an exemplary senior colleague and role model for us all. It’s an honor for me to be the first recipient of this prestigious Professorship. The resources provided will support ongoing developments in education and research which strategically address technology and work force needs of the Electric Power sector. We owe a lot to Dennis and this will greatly help us to maintain and advance our strong program.”

The professorship has a five-year renewable term and carries with it an annual discretionary stipend to support research equipment, graduate students and other expenses to build and maintain an active research program in the power area.


Endowed Professorships Announced for ECE & ME-EM

Two associate professors and one new assistant professor have been awarded named professorships in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

ECE faculty member Wayne Weaver has been named the Dave House Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering. Weaver is an expert in microgrids, electrical machines and control of power systems. He collaborates extensively with mechanical engineering faculty, in particular Gordon Parker, who holds the John and Cathi Drake Professorship.

Bo Chen has been named the Dave House Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. She is an expert in embedded sensor networks, multi-agent systems, and vehicle electronics and control.

Chen, who formerly held a sole appointment in the ME-EM department, will now hold a joint appointment in ME-EM and ECE, with the majority appointment in ME-EM.

Lucia Gauchia will join the Michigan Tech faculty this fall with a joint appointment in ECE and ME-EM, with the majority appointment in ECE. She has been named the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Assistant Professor of Energy Storage Systems. She is an expert in energy storage systems and state estimation for batteries and supercapacitors.

The awarding of two of these three professorships was the result of a cooperative agreement between the ECE and ME-EM departments, as it involved a “swap” of endowed positions. Dave House is an ECE alumnus, whereas Richard Henes is a ME-EM alumnus.

“I am delighted that ECE and ME-EM were able to work out this arrangement,” Fuhrmann said. “If Michigan Tech is to continue its success in energy systems, electric and hybrid electric vehicles, and control and automation, it’s going to require the close cooperation of our two departments.”

ME-EM chair Bill Predebon agreed.

“I am very excited about the growth in collaboration between the ME-EM and ECE departments,” he said. “These joint appointments are significant step in that direction. Our vision to establish a leadership position in the energy systems area will require a continued strong cooperation between our two departments.”


Zhuo Feng receives DAC Best Paper Award

ECE assistant professor Zhuo Feng received Best Paper Award at the 2013 Design Automation Conference (DAC), held this week in Austin, Texas, for his paper titled “Scalable vectorless power grid current integrity verification”. 

The DAC is a major annual conference in the electronics industry, this year with 747 papers. Prof. Feng’s paper was the sole winner, topping a slate of 8 nominated papers from academic and research institutions across North America and Europe.

For more information or a copy of the paper see http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2488840