Wei Zhang wins prestigious CAREER award

Posted: March 23, 2016

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Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Wei Zhang recently received the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The CAREER award is given to support the work of the nation’s most promising junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through the integration of outstanding research and excellent education.

Zhang was awarded $500,091 from the NSF Division of Computer and Network Systems for his power grid research project, “Hierarchical Control for Large-Scale Cyber-Physical Systems.”

Over the next five years, Zhang will establish new control and game theoretic foundations, along with numerical algorithms, to enable formal and scalable design of hierarchical control systems for large-scale cyber-physical systems.

Many complex engineering systems - such as electricity demand response programs, communication networks, ground and air transportation systems, and robotic networks - involve interactions among a large number of agents with coupled dynamics and decisions due to their shared environment and resources. Such systems are often operated using a hierarchical architecture, where a coordinator determines some macroscopic control signal to steer the population to achieve a desired group objective while respecting local preferences and constraints for individual agents.

Zhang’s research aims to significantly advance the understanding of complex engineering systems that involve coordination of a large population of dynamic agents. One key application is coordinating the vast amount of distributed energy resources to achieve efficient and reliable operations of the future power grid. In collaboration with researchers at national labs and industries, the project is also expected to yield new design principles and practical algorithms for the modernization of the power grid. 

Story contributor: Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications