Abur Elected as Member of the National Academy of Engineering

Main photo: Northeastern professor of electrical and computer engineering Ali Abur has been elected to the distinguished National Academy of Engineering. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Ali Abur, professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been elected a Member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is considered the highest professional distinction accorded to an engineer. Abur was recognized for his contributions to power system state estimation and power engineering education.

Abur says, “Being appointed to the National Academy of Engineering is the pinnacle of engineering. It is very rewarding to see your lifelong work being recognized by your peers.”

Abur has worked for decades on ways to improve the reliability and efficiency of electric power transmission systems. Over the course of his career, these systems have become steadily more diverse, sophisticated, and complex, posing continuous challenges to power system operators. High-profile system failures that led to widespread blackouts in the northeast during the 1970s inspired Abur’s early efforts to improve power network monitoring techniques. He innovated the use of measurements to estimate the states of systems, as well as methods for detecting and correcting errors in those measurements and improving real-time network modeling. His research using phasor measurement technology in the 1990s helped pave the way for synchronized measurements of widely separated power grid locations that enhanced system reliability.

More recently, he has worked closely with the independent system operator ISO New England on methods (for which he received a patent) to detect and remove errors, many of which had previously gone unnoticed, in their vastly complex network model databases. Effective, practical solutions such as these have helped improve an industry that our entire society depends on every minute of every day.

Abur came to Northeastern in 2005, joining the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering as a professor and serving as department chair until 2013. Throughout his research career he has completed close to 50 projects sponsored by federal and state agencies, as well as the energy industry. His service to the profession has included serving as Associate Editor for IEEE Transactions on Power Systems and IEEE Power Engineering Society Letters, as well as chairing IEEE’s PES Awards Subcommittee and PES IEEE Fellows Subcommittee. He currently serves as co-chair of the IEEE PES Working Group on Power System State Estimation Algorithms.

Abur was also instrumental in launching the CURENT (Center for Ultra-Wide Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks) Engineering Research Center, originally funded by the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy, now graduated and self-sustaining. He continues to serve as the Northeastern campus director of this multi-university ERC, the first in the area of smart power transmission and home to both hardware and software testbeds.

Among Abur’s awards and recognitions are the IEEE Power & Energy Society Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award and IEEE PES Boston Chapter Outstanding Engineering Award, both in 2014. He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 2003, and an American Electric Power Faculty Fellow, Texas A&M University, that same year. Decades of speaking engagements at industry and academic gatherings throughout the United States and internationally are a testament to Abur’s impact in the power transmission field.

Membership in the NAE honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

Abur says, “I am humbled by the honor and grateful for the recognition of my work. Earning trust is paramount for me—being honest, meticulous, and reliable in one’s work is what makes it valuable and useful to others.”

Related News: Northeastern’s Ali Abur appointed to National Academy of Engineering—the ‘highest honor an engineer can receive’

By Tanner Stening, Northeastern Global News


Related Faculty: Ali Abur

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering