Three Illinois ECE assistant professors win prestigious young faculty award


Laura Schmitt, ECE ILLINOIS

Urbana, IL - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Assistant Professors Patrick Chapman, Farzad Kamalabadi, and Daniel Liberzon have each received one of the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) most prestigious awards for young faculty- the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

Chapman is receiving nearly $375,000 over five years to develop new power electronic converters that combine multiple energy sources in an optimal way. In addition, Chapman will develop new ECE courses, and he will integrate energy-related topics into existing courses, educating students about problems with alternative energy sources.

Chapman and his research group will develop the first prototype of a power converter that takes energy from three or more different sources and outputs it at desired AC or DC voltages. The device would prioritize the energy sources based on the local environment, which changes regularly due to weather or transportation to a different location. Present technology consists of comparatively simple two-source systems, such as battery chargers, with no provision for optimizing the power flow.

This research applies to small systems such as handheld computers to much larger systems such as residential or industrial loads. The idea is to make better use of renewable energy, acknowledging that most systems only use one type of source-for example batteries, utility service, or fuel cells. By diversifying the energy source, better reliability with better economy can be theoretically attained.

Kamalabadi is receiving nearly $428,000 over five years to develop, implement, and integrate space- and ground-based optical and radio techniques for remote sensing and imaging of space phenomena. In addition, he will introduce space remote sensing and imaging concepts and methodologies to engineering students through new ECE courses.

By developing these sensing and imaging techniques, Kamalabadi and his research group will make it possible to better study ionospheric electron density structures and airglow emission layers. The enhanced imaging capabilities will provide further insight into the underlying physical processes that affect space operations, communication, navigation, and radar.

Liberzon is receiving $375,000 over five years to design and develop hybrid control algorithms for nonlinear dynamical systems. In addition, Liberzon will develop new ECE courses, including hands-on instructional lab courses.

Control methods are widely used to force some quantity-for example, temperature, altitude, or speed-to behave in a certain way over time. The autopilot in an aircraft is one example of an automatic control system.

The hybrid techniques that Liberzon and his research group are developing may have applications in software-enabled control, control over networks, and vision-based control. Their methods will help bridge the gap between mathematical control theory and engineering practice.

About NSF CAREER Awards
NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Awards recognize and support the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. CAREER awardees are selected on the basis of creative, career-development plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their institution.