UMR researcher receives Young Investigator Award from naval research office

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On April 2, 2007

Dr. Ganesh Kumar Venayagamoorthy, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and the director of the Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems (RTPIS) Laboratory at the University of Missouri-Rolla, received a three-year, $405,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), as one of the 33 recipients of the ONR’s Young Investigator Award in 2007. The award will support his research into developing an intelligent all-electric ship power system.

Venayagamoorthy was selected from a group of 214 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. The awards are intended to confer honor upon awardees beyond the research funding being provided.

“The all-electric ship power system is not new,” Venayagamoorthy explains. “What we’ll be trying to achieve in our RTPIS Laboratory is to equip the shipboard’s power system with intelligence and self-healing capabilities. During ‘fight and hurt operations,’ we want the shipboard power system’s control and reconfiguration to be autonomous and fast to maximize survivability and operability of the ship.”

Venayagamoorthy says his research on the all-electric ship power system could be applied to intelligent, land-based power microgrid systems, which may one day help shoulder the nation’s growing need for electricity. Microgrid systems – clusters of small, distributed sources of energy that serve a group of buildings or a neighborhood – represent a new approach to power generation and could provide reliable power without overburdening the nation’s aging transmission lines and stressed grid.

“Microgrids are envisioned to be part and parcel of the future intelligent power grid,” Venayagamoorthy explains. “Like the shipboard power system, microgrids will require intelligent multi-agents that are based on artificial immune system, swarm intelligence and brain-like intelligence – concepts based on the ideas of approximate dynamic programming (a method of solving multi-stage problems) and reinforcement learning — to maximize reliability.”

Venayagamoorthy received an additional $350,000 from ONR’s Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), a total of $755,000 from ONR. The DURIP funds, and a portion of the ONR YIP award, will be used to enhance the real-time simulation and hardware-in-the-loop capabilities of RTPIS lab.

A senior member of IEEE, Venayagamoorthy joined UMR in May 2002 as an assistant professor. He is the first UMR faculty member to receive both a Young Investigator Award from ONR and CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, which he was selected for in 2004.

His main research interests include power systems stability and control, alternative sources of energy, computational intelligence, evolvable hardware and signal processing. He has received approximately $3 million in research grants to date and has published more than 220 papers in refereed journals and conference proceedings.

Prior to his current position, he was a senior lecturer at the Durban Institute of Technology, South Africa. He is also the receipt of the 2006 Walter Fee Outstanding Young Engineer award from the IEEE Power Engineering Society, 2005 Young Outstanding Member award from the IEEE Industry Applications Society, the 2005 South African Institute of Electrical Engineers Young Achievers’ ABB award and has received similar awards from IEEE St. Louis Section in 2004 and 2006 and from the International Neural Network Society in 2003. He is also a receipt of a 2005 UMR Faculty Excellence award and a 2006 UMR School of Engineering Teaching Excellence award.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi, Nigeria, in 1994 and master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa, in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

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On April 2, 2007. Posted in Research