Texas Tech University

Professor Receives CAREER Award from National Science Foundation

George Watson

February 28, 2017


He's research involves wind turbine farm efficiency when dealing with disruptive weather.

Miao He
Miao He

Miao He's work with enhancing the efficiency of wind turbine farms in the face of disruptive weather has earned him a prestigious grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that recognizes the work of up-and-coming faculty.

He, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Texas Tech University Whitacre College of Engineering, has been selected to receive an award from the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program.

The program offers the NSF's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to lead advances in the mission of their department. Their work indicates the beginning of a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

He is a member of the Texas Tech Global Laboratory for Energy Asset Management and Manufacturing (GLEAMM) team, a collaboration of innovators, industry leaders and for-profit testing, certification and manufacturing facilities focused on protecting, enhancing and managing energy transmission and distribution on the electric grid.

"This award will support me in conducting cutting-edge research in integration of stochastic wind energy sources into bulk power grids and power system operations," He said. "The outcome of this project will contribute to fulfilling the important milestones and research goals of the GLEAMM project. This research project will train and prepare graduate students to be qualified engineers and researchers for a secure and sustainable energy industry in the future. I want to specifically acknowledge the support of the National Wind Institute 2016 Discovery Program as well as the collaborations from GLEAMM researchers."

He, who earned his doctorate in 2013 from Arizona State University, received a $500,000 grant from the CAREER program for his research, "Risk-Aware Power System Operations with Significant Wind Power Penetration."

His study will examine ways large wind turbine farms can effectively handle occurrences where the speed and direction of wind around those farms changes quickly and dramatically, also known as wind ramps, in order improve efficiency of the wind farms. It will also produce an early alarm system for large wind power ramps due to extreme weather events as well as cost-effective operational protocols for acquiring power reserves to compensate for any loss of efficiency due to wind ramps.

"For those who live in West Texas, it does not take long to appreciate that we enjoy limitless wind," said Guy Loneragan, interim vice president of research at Texas Tech. "At Texas Tech University, we are advancing ways to harness the power of wind and deliver unlimited renewable energy. This is good for all of us. Miao He seeks to meaningfully improve energy generation, management and distribution, and we are thrilled that he has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to advance integrated research and education."

In 2015, He received two large grants totaling $618,000 to help further this research. He received more than $318,000 from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and almost $300,000 from the NSF to help develop data analytic tools to measure sensory data from wind farms. The research focuses on developing algorithms and software tools to detect wind ramp events as well as extracting real-time data information to help wind farm operators determine how much to increase or decrease power output from wind turbines depending on the disruptiveness of the wind ramp event.

"This work is critically needed by our nation and state to manage the challenges – and opportunities – of wind energy," Loneragan said. "This fantastic achievement elevates Dr. He and also raises the reputation of Texas Tech University as a great public research university."

He's research involves using sensors on wind turbines that are able to measure the changes in weather and wind. Together with data that show how much the event in question reduces or increases power output from wind turbines, He hopes to develop an algorithm that can tell wind farm operators how much to increase or decrease turbine output on one end of the farm to compensate for the power loss or increase on the other end.

"I'm extremely proud of Dr. He," said Al Sacco Jr., dean of the Whitacre College of Engineering. "This is just another example of the outstanding young faculty that we've brought to Texas Tech in the last several years. Dr. He is a leader in his field at a very young age and is being recognized for that with these outstanding awards. We will continue to build a community of scholars around individuals like Dr. He as we begin to become a globally elite college of engineering."

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