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UNT electrical engineering assistant professor earns prestigious Powe award

Assistant Professor Tao Young

Tao Yang, assistant professor of electrical engineering at UNT, earned the prestigious 2018 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities for his research into the future of electrical distribution, microgrids. 

“Traditionally, electricity is provided through one central distribution network. This means a problem in one area will affect the entire grid causing power outages and blackouts,” Yang says. “Now, imagine if each user had a microgrid. People would be able to manage their own power distribution so if the main grid goes down they will still have power.”

While a microgrid does draw power from the central grid, it can break away and operate using its own generators and other power sources such as solar and wind. Yang designed a microgrid equipped with  its own generator that draws power from renewable energy sources used on the UNT campus. Yang’s microgrid would continue to work if the rest of campus lost power due to mechanical failure, severe weather, etc.

The Powe award, aimed at enhancing the research and professional growth of young faculty, is awarded to professors teaching engineering, sciences, mathematics, policy management or education. Awards from Oak Ridge, a consortium of 121 major Ph.D.-granting universities nationwide, can be used as funds for faculty summer salary, graduate student salary, travel, equipment or other assistance relevant to the faculty member's research.