Dr. Babak Fahimi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, received a three-year, $280,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), as one of the 26 recipients of the ONR’s Young Investigator Award in 2004.
"I am extremely pleased with this recognition because it not only brings recognition to my work but also is recognition for UMR," Fahimi says. The grant will support Fahimi’s research on eliminating acoustic noise and vibration in electric machinery and power electronics devices. The award will also significantly enhance UMR’s newly founded Center for Design, Diagnostics and Analysis of Electric Machines.
Fahimi was selected from a group of more than 210 applicants nationwide. The program’s objectives are to attract to naval research outstanding new faculty members at institutions of higher education, to support their research, and to encourage their teaching and research careers.
"We have developed a new modeling and control technology that can significantly reduce the acoustic signatures of electromechanical energy conversion devices using power electronics and advanced control techniques," Fahimi says. "It’s a combination of magnetic design and power electronics-based control."
For the Navy and other military applications, the elimination of acoustic noise removes a security liability from combat sea vehicles. "If these machines are quiet, they cannot be identified or detected from far away by enemy forces," Fahimi says. "It is extremely important for electric ships of the future to be as quiet as possible."
Consumers will see additional benefits in their home appliances, office products and even automobiles. "Nowadays you have many products that are electric, and acoustic noise caused by, for instance, power steering or starter alternator, causes trouble for the consumer," Fahimi says. "We’ll eliminate one of the sources of acoustic pollution, making our appliances quieter. At the same time, we intend to enhance their efficiency."
Fahimi and two Ph.D. students are currently designing prototypes of the concept machines. "We intend to manufacture them. Using our unique Anechoic acoustic chamber, which is located in our Emerson Electric Company Machines and Drives Laboratory, we intend to extensively test the performance and obtain key proof-of-concept type of results," Fahimi explains. "We will move from there to extend the idea to conventional machinery, like induction motors and other types of machines."
Fahimi joined UMR in 2002. Prior to his current position at UMR, he was a program manager and research scientist at Electro Standards Laboratories in Cranston, R.I. His main research interests include adjustable speed motor drives and power electronics converters; intelligent control of electric machinery; and the study of acoustic noise and vibration in electric machines.
Fahimi received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran, in 1991 and 1993, respectively. In 1995, Fahimi received a diploma of engineering (Germany’s equivalent to a master’s degree) from RWTH-Aachen in Aachen, Germany. Fahimi received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1999. In 2003, he received the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ (IEEE) Richard M. Bass Outstanding Young Power Electronics Engineer Award from IEEE Power Electronics Society.