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New ECE class gives students an in-depth look at the engineering process

New ECE class gives students an in-depth look at the engineering process

Starting this semester, ECE ILLINOIS will offer students an opportunity to study the engineering design process and possibly get a head start on their Senior Design projects with a new class called ECE 398, Special Topics in ECE.

Grad student Sudipta Dutta wins award for research on wind energy

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By Darlene Naolhu, ECE ILLINOIS
October 28, 2010

  • ECE graduate student Sudipta Dutta placed second in the NAPS 2010 Student Paper Contest.
  • She presented a method for computing the coordination of energy storage units and wind power in order to create a steady power output.
  • This could lead the way to reaching the U.S. Department of Energy's goal of 20% wind power penetration.

Sudipta  Dutta
Sudipta Dutta

When ECE graduate student Sudipta Dutta attended the 42nd North American Power Symposium (NAPS) at the University of Texas at Arlington in September, she knew very little of the Student Paper Contest that was taking place at the conference. 

So when she placed second in the NAPS 2010 Student Paper Contest for her paper “Optimal Storage Coordination for Minimal Wind Generation Schedule Deviation,” it came as a happy surprise. “At the closing ceremony, they announced my name, and I was really shocked,” said Dutta. “I thought I was just going to the conference to present my paper. I found out later that all the students who submitted their paper and had presented at the conference were eligible to win.”

Dutta’s paper focuses on the integration of storage units with wind power, a topic that considered critical in improving the reliability of wind farms and also in meeting committed generation schedules. Dutta presents a dynamic programming (DP)-based method for computing the coordination of energy storage units and wind power in order to both create a steady power output and minimize scheduled deviations for wind generators.

“The steadiness of the power output is really important because, if we have fluctuations in the power output, what we would see is fluctuations in our everyday power usage,” said Dutta.

At present, the current goal of the U.S. Department of Energy—achieving  20% wind power penetration by 2030—has necessitated detailed research of wind farm interaction with power grids.

“Right now we’re only about two to five percent in terms of energy generation by the wind. To reach twenty percent, we need a lot more wind farms and a lot more wind to come into the system,” said Dutta. “However, we still have restricting factors like the variability and uncontrollability of wind.”

Dutta’s paper approaches the problem of wind variability by trying to interface energy storage units that are used to smooth out output power and shape wind generation resources. Determining a way to control these factors can help wind farm owners participate in electricity markets and could lead the way to reaching the 20% wind power penetration goal.

“Energy storage units are beneficial and are definitely needed in firming the output from wind farms. But in order to convert this to practice, we still need to find a way to reduce costs,” said Dutta.

Dutta is currently researching under ECE Professor Thomas J. Overbye in the power systems field.

“Sudipta’s work focuses on better use of wind energy. We need to transition our energy infrastructure from one that is overly dependent upon fossil fuels. Sudipta’s research will help us do that by better optimizing how we use wind energy resources,” said Overbye. “She’s a very hard-working student, and I was quite happy to hear that she had gotten the NAPS award.”

Coming to Illinois for her research has been a dream come true for Dutta. She is currently pursuing her PhD as an international student from India. She received her bachelor’s in electrical engineering in 2005 from Jadavpur University and her master’s in 2007 from the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University. In 2008 she received the Joan and Lalit Bahl Fellowship from ECE, and in 2010 she received a Summer Doctoral Fellowship at Washington State University. She has contributed to four publications and is a member of IEEE.

“Working with brilliant people on cutting-edge technology at Illinois has really been very helpful,” said Dutta. “This award means a lot to me professionally and personally. It was unexpected, but I am honored and grateful to have received it.”

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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