April 25, 2024

Ali Bidram Selected for NSF Career Award

By Brittney Van Der Werff


Original article by Kim Delker, UNM – Link to original press release

Ali Bidram showing to two students something in his labA UNM School of Engineering researcher has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for his project to improve power grids to ensure they are adaptively protected for modern conditions, such as high penetration of renewable energy sources.

Ali Bidram, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is leading a project called “Stochastic Optimization and Physics-informed Machine Learning for Scalable and Intelligent Adaptive Protection of Power Systems.” The five-year, $517,000 project begins April 1 and continues through March 21, 2029.

Bidram said the work will focus on improving the resilience of power grids by designing a data-driven, adaptive protection platform that will take into account the needs for power systems in today’s high-demand environments. The resilience and reliability of power grids have become a growing issue in recent years in a world that increasingly relies upon electrical power for everything from computers, phones and even charging electric vehicles.

“The project will bring transformative change by designing intelligent and adaptive protection schemes in response to challenges associated with modern power grids in the presence of extreme events,” he said. “There is a need to redesign the conventional protection systems to make them adaptive to the prevailing power grid conditions. The goal is to make the protection systems more resilient by utilizing stochastic optimization algorithms and physics-informed machine learning techniques.”

Through both hardware and software solutions, Bidram will design a protection platform that will be able to handle adaptive protection actions in transmission as well as distribution on electric power grids.

In addition, this project will include an outreach component, which will involve students in K-12 as well as undergraduates. Summer camps and similar events will be utilized to reach out to underrepresented groups to interest them in pursuing careers in engineering, STEM and specifically power engineering. For undergraduates, new course topics in power and energy engineering will be developed.

The CAREER Award is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of scholar-teacher, through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of research and education.

Bidram, who joined the UNM faculty in fall 2018 with funding support from NM EPSCoR's NM SMART Grid Center Award, said this award is a major boost to his research in power and energy systems.

“I am very thankful to the National Science Foundation for this opportunity,” he said. “This award will greatly help with not only my research but also educational and outreach activities in addition to workforce development in New Mexico.”