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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Engineering Students Take Top Prize in Design Contest

May 21, 2009

A team of electrical engineering graduate students at The University of Texas at Arlington took first place in their category in a competition to design a device that would monitor existing distribution transformers operating in an electric utility power grid. The contest was sponsored by the IEEE and the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technology, a consortium of Texas electric utilities and high technology companies focusing on “smart grid” technologies.

The UT Arlington team consisted of Dr. David Chessmore, a post-doctoral researcher; Qiaohui Hu; Shun Liang and Weiping Xiao. Electrical Engineering Professor Wei-Jen Lee was the team’s advisor. “The team performed extensive literature searches and came up with a very intelligent design that caught the judges’ attention,” said Dr. Lee. “I’m impressed with their design concept and thorough knowledge in power engineering.”

There are approximately 41 million distribution transformers in the United States, either metal cylinders mounted on poles or boxes mounted on concrete pads. Many of these are approaching the end of their design lives. The purpose of the student-designed device is to alert the electric utility of a possible failure before the failure occurs. To do this, the device has to detect arcing internal to the transformer and/or dramatic changes in voltage, current or temperature.

Judges in the competition selected the UT Arlington team’s device based on the safety of the design and its ease of installation, light weight, cost, functionality and ability to communicate information to the utility company.

[Pictured (left to right): Dr. David Chessmore, Qiaohui Hu, Dr. Wei-Jen Lee, Weiping Xiao, Shun Liang]