U.S.-Canada Center on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid

Through $5M funding by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and $3.75M funding by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the University of Utah and University of Calgary will establish and co-lead the U.S.-Canada Center on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid.

The Western Interconnected Grid, commonly known as “the Western Interconnection,” is one of the two major interconnected power grids in North America, which stretches from the northern edge of British Columbia, Canada to the border of Baja, Mexico, and from the California coast to the Rockies, and serves roughly 80 million people over 1.8 million square miles across two Canadian provinces and fourteen western states in the United States. The Western Interconnection is the backbone of one of the largest regional economic engines in the world.

Masood Parvania, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Utah’s John and Marcia Price College of Engineering will co-lead the center along with Hamid Zareipour, professor of Electrical and Software Engineering at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School Engineering.

“Our center is being established at a critical time when the region is experiencing more frequent and severe extreme weather disturbances such as wildfires, heatwaves, drought, and flooding, the impacts of which not only pose threats to human health and the environment but also affect the ability of the western interconnection to continue powering the communities,” says Parvania.

At the University of Utah, the center involves co-principal investigators Valerio Pascucci, professor at the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute and Kahlert School of Computing, William Andregg, director of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy, and Divya Chandrasekhar, associate professor in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning in the College of Architecture and Planning, among multiple other partners and faculty.

The U.S.-Canada Center on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid creates an interdisciplinary and international partnership that brings together leading experts in power engineering, climate, forestry, data, policy, and social sciences, as well as industry, entrepreneurs and community knowledge holders from a network of 35 partners across academia, industry, government, and communities with the mission of enhancing the power grid resilience to the rising frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events, such as wildfires and heatwaves.

The academic members of the center include the University of Utah, University of California San Diego’s WIFIRE lab, University of New Mexico, and Desert Research Institute in the U.S., as well as University of Calgary, University of British Columbia, University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina and Thompson Rivers University in Canada .

“The Center will work closely with the various communities that are served by the western interconnection, which include some of the most densely populated cities in the world, as well as remote and rural areas with minimal power infrastructure. Establishing a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs of these communities is necessary to develop effective climate-resilience strategies,” says Zareipour.

“The U.S.-Canada Center taps into the expertise of multiple world-renowned institutes and centers at the University of Utah, including the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute, the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy, and the Energy and Power Innovation Center (EPIC). Collectively, these resources can facilitate the resilience of critical power grid infrastructure against extreme conditions. This center solidifies the University of Utah’s leadership in power grid resilience research and technology innovation,” says Erin Rothwell, the University of Utah’s Vice President for Research.

 The center will develop customized models for risk quantification and forecasting of regional extreme climate disturbances and will build a cyberinfrastructure for collecting and sharing both climate and grid data among the Western Interconnection’s stakeholders.

“The center will showcase a new international innovation ecosystem for rapid transformation of use-inspired research into technologies with global applications to overcome common challenges posed by the extreme weather events. This is a mission-critical process aimed at safeguarding the future of our energy infrastructure and, by extension, communities across North America and beyond,” says Mostafa Farrokhabadi, assistant professor of Electrical and Software Engineering at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School Engineering, and the Chair of the Innovation Ecosystem for the U.S.-Canada Center.

The center will engage community knowledge holders, build awareness, inspire policy, and develop workforce capacity by providing education and training opportunities for diverse groups of graduate and undergraduate students, postdoctoral scholars, high school students, and professionals to develop the human elements of modern, resilient power grids.


About the John and Marcia Price College of Engineering
The University of Utah’s John and Marcia Price College of Engineering is the premier educational institution in Utah for computer science and engineering as well as one of the top engineering schools in the nation. Each year, the College graduates more than 1,300 students from seven engineering disciplines and gives them the skills they need to succeed in the growing technology market. With world-class faculty and facilities, the College is dedicated to pioneering research that benefits the world. Learn more at price.utah.edu.

About the University of Calgary
UCalgary is Canada’s entrepreneurial university, located in Canada’s most enterprising city. It is a top research university and one of the highest-ranked universities of its age. Founded in 1966, its 35,000 students experience an innovative learning environment, made rich by research, hands-on experiences and entrepreneurial thinking. It is Canada’s leader in the creation of start-upsStart something today at the University of Calgary.

For more information, visit ucalgary.ca. Stay up to date with UCalgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For access to UCalgary news releases, images and b-roll, and details on faculties and how to reach experts, check out our newsroom at ucalgary.ca/newsroom.

Open Postdoctoral Research Associate Position – August 2023

The Utah Smart Energy Laboratory (U-Smart) has an immediate opening for one Postdoctoral Research Associate on developing solutions to enhance the resilience of power systems against climate-driven disturbances (e.g., wildfire, heatwave). The ideal candidate would have expertise and prior experience on big data analytics, machine learning, and optimization techniques, with application in power systems. Knowledge and expertise on software development and using cloud computing resources is a plus. The position comes with a competitive benefit package and salary commensurate with experience. The position is available immediately, but the start date is negotiable, with initial appointment of one year, which is renewable for three years.

The position provides excellent professional development opportunity to learn from and work with a large interdisciplinary team at the U-Smart. Exceptional candidates would be considered for subsequent appointment as a Research Assistant Professor in the ECE Department.

Applicants should apply for the position online at: https://utah.peopleadmin.com/postings/151894/

Applications will be reviewed immediately, and the posting is open until the position is filled.

U-Smart organized the 2022 IEEE PES Grid Resilience Workshop

The Utah Smart Energy Laboratory (U-Smart) in collaboration with the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) organized the 2022 IEEE PES Grid Resilience Workshop on September 8, 2022, in person at the University of Utah. The workshop was broadcasted live to virtual attendees. For more information about the workshop and agenda please visit: https://usmart.ece.utah.edu/2022-grid-resilience-workshop/

Workshop photos:

Opening for Ph.D. Students

The Utah Smart Energy Laboratory (U-Smart) at the University of Utah is always looking for motivated and talented students to join the group.

The ideal candidates would have expertise in machine learning methods, control theory, mathematical optimization, and hardware-in-the-loop simulation, with applications in power systems.

The successful applicants will receive Research Assistant positions, along with tuition waiver and medical benefits, to earn their Ph.D. degree at the ECE Department at the University of Utah.

If interested to join us, please fill out the online application form. We will review the applications and get back to select applicants to set up an interview.

Read more about our lab values, and research projects.

Also read more about why Utah is such an incredible place to live and get your Ph.D.: https://www.ece.utah.edu/future-students/#why-utah


Dr. Parvania named a Presidential Scholar at University of Utah

Dr. Masood Parvania is named a Presidential Scholar at the University of Utah. The award recognizes the extraordinary academic accomplishments and promise of up to four mid-career faculty, providing them with financial support to advance their teaching and research work.

Presidential scholars are selected each year, and the recipients receive $10,000 in annual funding for three years. The program is made possible by a generous donor who is interested in fostering the success of mid-career faculty.

More information about the recognition: University of Utah announcement, College of Engineering News

El Hariri Receives Best Paper Award

Dr. Mohamad El Hariri, Research Assistant Professor at U-Smart, received the best paper award at 2020 Resilience Week for his paper on Implementation of IEEE Standard 1547-2018 for DER Communication Interface using Data Distribution Service .

In this paper, a publish-subscribe data-centric communication scheme with automatic network discovery is selected to implement the DER local communication interface to support the interoperability requirements for information exchange specified in the IEEE standard 1547-2018. Implementation of the proposed communication scheme over a real communication network shows that the selected communication scheme enables true plug-and-play interoperability by automatically discovering joining DERs, and therefore, enhances the system’s scalability.
Read more about this award at ECE news.

Dr. Khatami receives Outstanding Dissertation Award

Dr. Roohallah Khatami receives 2020 Outstanding Dissertation Award of the College of Engineering and department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Utah. Dr. Khatami defended his Ph.D. dissertation, titled “continuous-time optimization of power systems operation”, on August 2019, and published a total of 20 journal and conference papers during his Ph.D. studies. Congratulations Roohallah!

Jacob Collins receives 2020 John W. Estey Outstanding Scholar Award

Jacob Collins, Senior Undergraduate Student at the U-Smart lab receives the 2019-2020 IEEE PES John W. Estey Outstanding Scholar Award from the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) Scholarship Plus Initiative. The IEEE PES John W. Estey Outstanding Scholar Award is distributed annually to the top PES Scholars in each of the six IEEE U.S. regions and Canada. More information about IEEE PES John W. Estey Outstanding Scholar Award: https://www.ee-scholarship.org/about-the-scholarship/john-w-estey-award/2019-20-estey

Jacob is a senior student in ECE department and the NROTC program at the University of Utah, and is working as a student engineer at Rocky Mountain Power. Jacob is currently working on his Senior project at the U-Smart lab and is expected to graduate in May 2020.