FREEDM Research and Education Update

Dear Members, Academic Partners and Friends,

I hope this note finds you well and able to meet the personal and professional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our labs were closed for a short time, the students, staff and faculty at FREEDM continued our work in innovative ways. I want to share with you some of the accomplishments of our students and faculty and reassure you that our research continues to progress.


Through the summer, research focused mainly on simulations since the labs at FREEDM were closed as mandated by NC State University. However, over the past several weeks, students and faculty have been approved to work in both the high and low bay labs as well as in our simulation labs on campus. For example, in-person lab work has resumed on projects such as the EV Fast Charger and power modules, high power density electric machines, traction inverters, microgrid controllers and the Green Energy Hub testbed. We have engaged with partners such as Oak Ridge National Lab, Wolfspeed, New York Power Authority, Eaton, Microchip, Ricardo, and the US Department of Energy in various research projects. For now, all meetings with partners and customers are still virtual, as we continue to follow university protocols. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have topics to discuss or ideas for research. 

I am incredibly proud of the work of my colleagues at the Center and of the contributions made by many across our community as we balance the current need for academic agility and continuity with our long-term vision to modernize the electric grid. Recently funded projects include:

  • High Efficiency Powertrain for Heavy Duty Trucks using SiC Inverter/Rectifier, US DOE through Ricardo Engineering, primary investigator: Iqbal Husain, Ph.D.
  • Photovoltaic Analysis and Response Support Platform for Solar Situational Awareness and Resiliency Services, US DOE, primary investigator: Ning Lu, Ph.D.
  • Grid-forming Battery Energy Storage System Characterization and Testing, Duke Energy, primary investigator: Srdjan Lukic, Ph.D.
  • Cybersecurity for Electric Power Systems, US Department of Education, primary investigator: Mesut Baran, Ph.D.
  • Integrated Microgrid Control Platform, US Department of Defense through Vanderbilt University, primary investigator: Srdjan Lukic, Ph.D.

On a personal note, we have many things to celebrate. Dr. Srdjan Lukic, FREEDM’s Deputy Director, and his wife welcomed their second child in April, and Rebecca McLennan, our Business Officer, and her husband welcomed their third child in late August. 

Professor Aranya Chakrabortty, NC State and FREEDM faculty member, accepted a temporary posting with the US National Science Foundation as a program director in the Energy, Power, Control and Networks group, overseeing research in electric power systems and controls.  Dr. Chakrabortty is still a faculty member at NC State and will spend time on his current FREEDM research and on his new focus with the NSF. 

And through this difficult time, we also had students successfully defend their thesis and graduate with their Ph.D. Siddharth Mehta, Ph.D. presented his research on “Design, Modeling and Control of Doubly Salient Reluctance Machines” in mid-August and accepted a position with Danfoss. Aleksandar Vukojevic, Ph.D., PE, successfully defended his thesis titled, “Design of Reliable and Secure System Protection and Control Schemes in Microgrids Consisting of Inverter-Based Distributed Energy Resources” in July 2020. He completed his research and received his degree while working full time for Duke Energy. Md. Sariful Islam is scheduled to defend his thesis on  “High Performance Permanent Magnet Machines for Transportation Applications” on Sept 25th. He is scheduled to join Halla Mechatronics in Michigan after his graduation. Several other Ph.D. candidates are preparing to defend in October. You can see the full list of recent graduates on our website.

We wish you all well as summer comes to a close and we prepare for a fall that will require compassion and diligence to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment. 

Iqbal Hussain, Ph.D.

ABB Distinguished Professor, NC State University

Director, FREEDM Systems Center