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UT Arlington Professor to Lead National Electric Arc Flash Study

October 29, 2008

University of Texas at Arlington Electrical Engineering Professor Wei-Jen Lee has been selected to lead a national study to increase the understanding of arc flashes. The multi-year project is being funded by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and is expected to cost between $6 million and $7 million.

Every year, approximately 2,000 electrical workers suffer serious burns and/or other injuries as a result of arc flashes. An arc flash is an electric current that is passed through the air when insulation or isolation between electrified conductors is insufficient to withstand the applied voltage.

As manager for the IEEE/NFPA project on arc flash hazards, Dr. Lee will be collaborating with Drs. P. K. Sen and Ravel Ammerman, both with the Colorado School of Mines, and Dr. Tammy L. Gammon, a senior electrical engineer in industry. This collaborative project will discover what kind of energy is being released, predict the hazards associated with arcing faults and accompanying arc blasts, and decide what protection is needed for employees in the workplace.

Dr. Lee joined the faculty of UT Arlington after receiving his doctoral degree here in 1985. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the National Taiwan University in 1978 and 1980, respectively. Dr. Lee, a Fellow of the IEEE, is the director of UT Arlington’s Energy Systems Research Center and a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas. He has published more than 140 journal and conference papers.

“It’s truly an honor to be invited to lead this project,” said Dr. Lee. “The time and effort we devote to this undertaking will be well worth it even if we just save one person’s life.