PULLMAN, Wash. – Chen-Ching Liu, an internationally leading researcher into the smart electric power grid, is joining the WSU faculty as Boeing Distinguished Professor.
 
The position comes with support from the state Economic Development Commission and the Higher Education Coordinating Board “STARS researcher” funding program. The program promotes economic development and technology transfer from research institutions to the private sector through strategic hires in critical research areas.
 
Liu’s hiring will bolster WSU’s internationally recognized power engineering program and provide a nexus of regional expertise that will drive the next generation of power grid research and innovation.
 
“The STARS Researcher program is a vital tool to help attract outstanding scientists to Washington,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “At Washington State University, we are proud of the leadership role that we have taken in clean technology and developing a smarter grid. Bringing Chen-Ching Liu to our university will further enhance our state’s effort to develop the clean tech jobs and the secure and efficient grid that will power our future.”
 
“Efficient management of the electrical power system is critical to our emergent green energy economy,’’ said Howard Grimes, vice president for research and dean of the graduate school. “Indeed, a major emphasis of this new position is to rapidly transfer new technologies from WSU to the private sector.
 
“By hiring Liu and further strengthening WSU’s research program in power engineering and the smart grid, we are contributing directly to a strong future economy for the state,” he said. “Building fundamental research around the next generation smart grid will create high technology jobs in Washington and throughout our region.”
 
Liu is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is internationally recognized for pioneering contributions to the development of decision support systems for power system restoration following major outages.
 
Most recently, he has been a professor in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at University College Dublin, Ireland, where he also served as deputy principal of the College of Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
 
His research interests include cyber-power system vulnerability assessment, wide area control and protection technologies for the power grid, and engineering and economic issues related to the integration of renewable energy. He has conducted research extensively for industry and governments, including the power industry in the U.S., Europe and Asia, the National Science Foundation, Electric Power Research Institute, Science Foundation Ireland, and European Commission programs.
 
He has published more than 100 publications in major power engineering journals and 20 book chapters. Liu held faculty positions at Iowa State University and the University of Washington, Seattle, where he served as associate dean of engineering from 2000 to 2005. As a former board member of the Washington Technology Center, he will bring his experience in facilitating economic development through technology transfer.
 
Liu was recognized for his outstanding contributions in the field of electrical engineering with an IEEE Third Millennium Medal in 2000. He received several teaching awards, including the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award. He also played a leadership role in IEEE PES future power engineering workforce activities.
 
Liu received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in electrical engineering.
 
“Research to develop smart grid technologies and to address the daunting and exciting energy challenges of the 21st century is a top priority for the College of Engineering and Architecture,’’ said Candis Claiborn, dean of the college. “Both Chen-Ching Liu and WSU’s power engineering program are recognized leaders in this important research area and will help the state solve the critical challenges that lie ahead.’’
 
WSU has a long history of leadership in electric power engineering research and in collaboration with the electric power industry in the Northwest. From the university’s earliest days, its researchers helped the industry improve transmission, distribution and development of dams throughout the Northwest.
 
Later, research moved to increasing the reliability of the power grid and, most recently, to smart grid technology. The power professorship program, established in the 1970s, formalized collaboration between power industry leaders and WSU and has allowed for long-time partnerships in research and undergraduate education.
In recent years, WSU researchers have continued to make significant strides in research and education in addressing the 21st century challenges in electric power.
 
For example, a group of WSU researchers received U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) support to work with Avista on a demonstration project that is making the city of Pullman the region’s first smart grid community. The $38 million project is part of a DOE regional demonstration project designed to expand existing electric infrastructure and test new smart grid technology.
Researchers also received $2.5 million from the DOE to develop a program to train engineers in clean energy and the smart grid. The three-year project is developing a set of courses in clean energy and smart grid engineering.
 
“Dr. Liu’s innovative research has contributed to improving the electric power grid and making it more efficient and cost-effective for the consumer,’’ said Behrooz Shirazi, Huie-Rogers Chair, professor and director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Bringing Liu to WSU cements WSU’s leadership position in the area of smart grid and power engineering while also providing a significant long-term impact in one of the most critical areas of Washington’s economy.’’