Chen and Jiang win award for research on uncertainty in power systems

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By Heather Punke, ECE ILLINOIS
November 25, 2011

  • Christine Chen and Xichen Jiang received the Best Student Paper Award at the recent 2011 North American Power Symposium.
  • The paper was on uncertainty modeling in power systems with an application to quantify the impact of renewable resource integration.
  • The students are completing their PhD degrees under ECE Assistant Professor Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia.

Christine Chen
Christine Chen

ECE graduate students Christine Chen and Xichen Jiang received the Best Student Paper Award at the recent 2011 North American Power Symposium (NAPS).

Xichen Jiang
Xichen Jiang

Both said they were surprised when they won the top prize – Jiang didn’t think they were going to win anything at all, let alone first place.

“When they called the third place paper, I thought to myself, ‘OK, well, we didn’t get third place so we probably have no hope of getting anything.’ said Jiang. “Then they called the second place paper, which was won by someone else; by then I was just ready to go. When they called us for the first place paper, I could not believe it. I was completely surprised. Then the initial shock went away, and I was pretty happy.”

“We worked really hard on the paper, and so it feels good to be recognized for our efforts,” Chen added.

The paper was on uncertainty modeling in power systems with an application to quantify the impact of renewable resource integration.

For some power sources, like wind or solar, “you can’t dispatch them like other resources because [they are] dependent on the weather,” Chen explained. Changes in weather can cause uncertainty in the power system – when the sun goes behind a cloud or the winds stop blowing, the input to the power system would change.

“The main thrust of the paper is to look at the uncertainty in the renewable resource and find out what kind of effect that uncertainty has on the system’s performance,” Chen said.

 “So, basically it’s a paper on how to characterize the relationship from the input uncertainty to your output, which could be whatever you’re interested in measuring,” Jiang said.

Both Jiang and Chen had been interested in the topic throughout their student careers, but the paper was the result of a project supervised by ECE Assistant Professor Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia.

Both students had high praise for their professor. “He’s just always ready to help you out with whatever we’re having problems with,” Chen said.

“He’s motivating too, at least for me I’d say. He’s driven but I don’t think he’s overbearing, so I think that’s a positive influence,” Jiang added.

Dominguez-Garcia shared the students’ excitement. “I felt great for them, I think it’s a big accomplishment,” he said. “It reflects on how great they are doing, and also reflects on the quality of the power program here at the U of I.”

While both students collaborated on the paper and are working towards doctorates under Dominguez-Garcia, they have very different future goals. Chen would like to be a part of the “revolution” of renewable resource integration into power systems after graduation. Jiang, on the other hand, said he wants to finish “climbing the academic ladder,” before settling down and maybe teaching high school.

Next year, the ECE ILLINOIS Power Program will play host to NAPS. Illinois hasn’t hosted the power symposium since 1981. For next year’s conference, Dominguez-Garcia will co-chair the event with ECE Professors Peter W. Sauer and Thomas J. Overbye.

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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