Senator Leahy Champions UVM-IBM "Smart Grid" Research Using Complex Systems
Release Date: 11-10-2010
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) approved a three-year, $590,000 project for complex systems research by the University of Vermont Complex Systems Center and IBM Research into the future reliability of the smart grid. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy secured an initial $500,000 for the UVM program, which then attracted an additional $90,000 in resources through the UVM-IBM partnership.
Led by Drs. Paul Hines and Chris Danforth, two faculty in the UVM Complex Systems Center and assistant professors in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), the UVM-IBM project uses complex systems modeling approaches to reduce the risk of large blackouts caused by cascading failure in the electricity infrastructure. The research will focus on the development of new methods, based on complex systems concepts and high-performance computing, for estimating and reducing cascading failure risks -- invaluable information as Vermont actively develops the nation's first, statewide smart grid infrastructure.
"Implementation of a statewide Smart Grid holds tremendous promise to improve the daily lives of Vermonters," said Leahy, "The research conducted by UVM and IBM through this public-private partnership will improve the reliability of the power grid and help anticipate some of the unforeseen challenges posed by this new technology. Vermont is poised to lead the pack on Smart Grid adoption and this funding will help solidify that position."
"IBM's Vermont site has a long history of success working with UVM and we're pleased that this collaboration has now been extended to include IBM Research, said Janette Bombardier, director, IBM Vermont site operations and senior location executive. "IBM has used systems modeling and monitoring to improve energy use at its Vermont facility, and this research will focus on how to apply similar techniques to create a more stable and reliable electric grid for Vermont and nationwide."
"The growing UVM-IBM partnership in complex systems approaches and high performance computing on issues critical to the State of Vermont and our nation showcases excellence in both institutions," said UVM Vice President for Research Domenico Grasso, "I sincerely thank Senator Leahy for his support of this important research and look forward to our faculty's continued collaborations with IBM."
IBM will leverage the team's development of computationally efficient complex systems of systems approaches and Hybrid High Performance Computing (HPC) implementations, to compliment its "Smarter Energy" research agenda. The computationally rigorous field of complex systems is extremely well-suited to this research -- simulating complex interactions of technological, human, and environmental systems, among others. Complex systems was recently identified by UVM as one of three transdisciplinary "Spires of Excellence" for university-wide strategic investment.
Professor Hines moved to the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences in 2007 after earning degrees in engineering and public policy from Carnegie-Mellon University. He has been active in Vermont energy systems education efforts and, in addition to his position at UVM, holds an adjunct position with Vermont Law School. Professor Danforth, Hines' co-investigator, moved to UVM from the University of Maryland and is an expert in the modeling of chaotic interactions. Danforth is engaged in complex systems modeling studies ranging from the "emotional state of the blogosphere" to blood coagulation and is also a national leader in math and climate system education both at UVM and through the Governor's Institutes of Vermont (GIV) program for Vermont high schools.