Alouani Wins TTU's Caplenor Research Award

For a balance of contributions on theoretical and practical levels in electrical and computer engineering, Ali Alouani has been named the 2000 Donald Caplenor Faculty Research Award winner at Tennessee Tech University.

Alouani, an electrical and computer engineering professor, has advanced the state of theoretical knowledge in his field, developed work for the U.S. Navy and invented a novel system for TVA.

"Since joining the university in 1987, Dr. Alouani has made highly significant research contributions," said P.K. Rajan, professor and chairperson of TTU's electrical and computer engineering department. "He has developed a new tracking system for the U.S. Navy and has also contributed to solving industrial problems."

Alouani has excelled in three areas: fuzzy logic control, invention of a boiler tube leak detection system and work on sensor fusion and a target tracking system for the U.S. Navy.

His work with fuzzy logic, a logic where complex industrial systems take vague sources of information and make a decision the same way a human brain does, has led to new powerful techniques of controlling complex systems, eliminating the need for expert people and trial and error methods.

Alouani's work on boiler tube leak detection also earned him a patent. Boiler tube failures are a major cause of forced shut down of fossil power plants worldwide, costing utilities billions. Approximately 41,000 tube failures occur every year in the United States. TVA supported Alouani's study, and a boiler tube leak detection system was designed and successfully tested on a TVA unit.

The U.S. Navy also benefited from his work on sensor fusion, work that consolidates many different sensory inputs to, for instance, give a captain of a vessel a good tactical picture of a surveillance area. He has also patented work on a target tracking system.

Alouani's research has been supported by many funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, U.S. Navy and TVA. To date, he has published over 125 technical papers in his areas of expertise.

To his students, he is also known for his ingenuity in developing the Advanced Systems Lab at TTU. Alouani used salvaged equipment and created the lab where students test design projects and graduate students pursue innovative research work.

The Caplenor Award, first presented in 1984, is the university's premier research award. The award was named in honor of Donald Caplenor, former associate vice president for research and dean of instructional development, who died in 1979.

Last year's award winner was Sastry Munukutla, professor of mechanical engineering in the Electric Power Center.
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