MRI: Acquisition of a Power-Hardware-in-the-Loop (PHIL) System to Enhance Research and Student Research Training in Engineering and Computer Science

Funded by NSF ECCS program (PI, 297K, 9/2017-8/2020)

Major Research Instrumentation award will enable the acquisition of a state-of-the-art Power-Hardware-in-the-Loop system that is currently revolutionizing test engineering on many levels, including power/smart grids, vehicle and communication systems, civil structures, robotics, and aerospace. The acquisition of this highly scalable and configurable, computationally efficient simulation and experimental testing platform will enable the diverse multi-user community of engineers, computer scientists, and student researchers at San Francisco State University and San Jose State University to develop and evaluate complex systems and/or physical components in an integrated fashion. This system will significantly enhance the research capability at the two participating Hispanic-serving, non-Ph.D-granting institutions that rank among the leaders in ethnic diversity in the U.S. It will create well-equipped research environments that integrate research and research training and provide crucial research infrastructure needed to catalyze cross-disciplinary collaborations among faculty members and initiate and/or strengthen their collaborations with other research institutions and industrial partners. It will enrich the education of Hispanic, female, and African-American students by providing them hands-on research training in frontier technology. It will advance the careers of junior female faculty members enabling them to serve as role models for female students who remain underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It will also lead to the creation of new teaching and research laboratories that will be integrated into the engineering and computer science curricula.

The Power-Hardware-in-the-Loop system will become an indispensable tool to stimulate new research in four key sectors of engineering and computer science research: vehicle system, power/smart grid, prosthetic robotic arm development, and structural analysis. In vehicle system research, it will be used to catalyze progress in the following areas: (1) improvements of the reliability, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency of key electric drive components in electrified vehicles; (2) development of hybrid energy storage systems to accelerate the introduction of electrified vehicles in the transportation sector; and (3) development of in-cylinder control strategies for advanced combustion modes in compression-ignition engines. In the power/smart grid research sector, it will be used to enhance research opportunities in the following areas: (1) investigation of the grid integration impacts of electric vehicle charging and renewable energy sources; (2) experimental evaluation of power electronic interfaces in smart grids; (3) failure analyses of power equipment in power grids; and (4) development of communication and/or smart sensing infrastructure in smart grids. The instrument will also enhance the computational capacity for high-fidelity simulation of analytical substructure and facilitate the developments of advanced control interfaces for the next-generation of myoelectric prosthetic robotic arms.