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UTA engineers earn 3 best paper awards

July 28, 2016

A team of electrical engineering professors and students at The University of Texas at Arlington has won three "Best Paper" Awards from the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers, including the organization's 2016 Power and Energy Society Prize Paper Award.

Assistant Professor Ali Davoudi, Professor Frank Lewis, and doctoral students Vahidreza Nasirian and Josep Guerrero won their first award for the paper in IEEE's Transactions on Energy Conversion titled, "Distributed Adaptive Droop Control for DC Distribution Systems."

That paper was later selected from a pool of best paper winners for the 2016 IEEE Power and Energy Society Prize Paper Award. It investigated a proper way to simultaneously address power quality and power stability issues in a volatile, power electronics intensive, finite-inertia power system. Such a power system could include rural settings, net-energy-zero building, electric ships, electric aircraft, forward-operating bases and more.

A key aspect of the research was finding how to address those issues in a fully distributed manner, to democratize the decision-making process and make the cyber-layer more modular, reliable, resilient and efficient.

Davoudi, Lewis, Nasirian and doctoral student Hamidrez Modares earned best paper awards from the International Symposium on Resilient Control Systems in 2015 for their paper titled, "Active loads of a microgrid as players in a differential game."

The paper looked at ways to decouple sensitive electronics load from weak distribution grid with volatile and intermittent sources, also called renewables, and loads or plug-in electric vehicles. Using the intrinsic energy stored in power electronics converters, the energy dispatch in direct current distribution systems mimics a game-theoretic control environment to route power among converters where different power electronics converters cooperate throughout the network to help address transients imposed on a neighbor converter.

A game-theoretic control environment is the logical decision-making in humans, animals and computers.

"To be recognized at the highest levels of such a large technical community is a testament to our collaborative environment and the quality of our students, as well as the support we receive from UTA, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation," Davoudi said.

The teams' work focuses on microgrids, small-scale collections of systems that can act by themselves without being connected to a primary power grid. Microgrid examples are on ships, at forward operating bases, and "green" buildings that use batteries, solar power or other sources to generate energy.

Davoudi's research introduces intelligent systems using direct current power to these microgrids. Intelligent systems can distribute power where it needs to be by making decisions based on local interactions. DC power, which was largely bypassed by alternating current power for many years, has been making a comeback because it is now possible to scale the system up and it is more reliable and more efficient. Also, many power sources, loads and storage devices are now DC.

The best paper awards are symbolic of the innovative research that is making a global environmental impact under UTA's Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact, said Jonathan Bredow, chair of UTA's Department of Electrical Engineering.

"The college is involved in fascinating research in many different areas, which is exemplified by Dr. Davoudi, Dr. Lewis and their students. These accolades are well-deserved, and our department benefits from the research that led to these papers," Bredow said.

Davoudi has received nearly $3 million in funding since 2011 as both a principal investigator and co-PI from the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Department of Energy, among other organizations. He works in power electronics and machine drives, renewable energy systems, vehicular systems and microgrids and has published more than 140 peer-reviewed articles and two book chapters and has one issued and one pending patent.

Lewis is a Fellow of IEEE and of the U.K. Institute of Measurement and Controls. He also is a member of the National Academy of Inventors. He has received more than $9 million in grant funding since 1990 to study feedback control, reinforcement learning, intelligent systems and distributed control systems.

Lewis holds six U.S. patents and is the author of 286 journal papers, 391 conference papers, 15 books, 44 chapters and 11 journal special issues.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a R-1 Carnegie "highest research activity" institution of more than 55,000 degree-seeking students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at

University of Texas at Arlington

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