TTU’s Gao Wins NSF CAREER award, $400K will support wind power research

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 27, 2009) — A new $400,000 National Science Foundation CAREER award will allow Wenzhong (David) Gao, a Tennessee Tech University assistant professor of electrical engineering, to continue his research and education in wind power.
Gao, whose work is based in TTU’s Center for Energy Systems Research, received a five-year grant for his project, "Wind Power – Multi-Level Control, Intelligent Grid Integration and Real Time Digital Simulation.”
“The NSF CAREER award is among the most prestigious awards made through NSF,” said David Huddleston, TTU’s College of Engineering dean. “It is granted to support the early career development activities of scholars who most effectively integrate research and education in their disciplines. This award recognizes Dr. Gao as an excellent researcher, outstanding educator and a future leader in the power and energy field.”
As the U.S. Department of Energy strives to reach its “20 percent wind by 2030” goal in the nation’s power infrastructure model, Gao’s research will provide solutions to key issues for resilient and reliable large-scale wind power system operation. If successful, the timely findings will facilitate the successful deployment of large-scale wind power in smart grid and our society's paradigm shift to renewable energy resources.
“My objectives will be to develop new theories, control algorithms, and technologies for wind energy utilization,” said Gao. “Another important element of this project is to develop new courses and curricula on wind power and to train the next generation workforce. We will encourage participation of underrepresented groups in wind power engineering, a rapidly evolving area faced with international competition.”
Since joining TTU’s faculty in 2006, Gao has led efforts that established state-of-the-art laboratories representing a total investment in excess of $1 million: TVA Power Relay Laboratory, NSF Real Time Digital Simulator and Wind Power Laboratory, and DURIP Fuel Cell and Energy Storage Laboratory. With the NSF CAREER award, Gao has received more than $1 million in competitive external funding.
“Dr. Gao is an outstanding young faculty in our ECE department,” said TTU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Chairperson Stephen Parke. “He recently won a DOE grant for more than $250,000 for wind energy storage research. After also receiving this NSF award, he is poised to be a national and international leader in wind power research and education. We are proud of him.”
Sastry Munukutla, director of TTU’s Center for Energy Systems Research, says “Dr. Gao is very productive in his research work. The outcomes of his research and educational activities will greatly improve future green power generation and utilization technologies, help protect our environment and benefit our society.”
Gao earned his master’s degree and doctorate in electrical and computer engineering, specializing in electric power engineering, at Georgia Tech. He has more than 50 publications in international journals and conference proceedings.

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