College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

New faculty member garners millions in grants


In August of 2015, Iowa State Electrical and Computer Engineering added Zhaoyu Wang as an assistant professor. In the short time Wang has called Iowa State home, he has acquired over $3 million in research grants from groups like the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and industry leaders. 

I really enjoy working with Zhaoyu,” noted Executive Director of the Electrical Power Research Center Anne Kimber. “He is so enthusiastic about working with the utility members of the Electric Power Research Center. This is great for our utilities because they can work with a top-notch research engineer genuinely interested in helping them solve problems.”

Wang’s research interests include power distribution systems, networked microgrids and data-driven analytics in smart grid. These technologies allow for better power infrastructure in case of natural disasters or other emergencies.

While it is very common for faculty within ECpE to receive large-sum grants, it is not as common to receive large-sum grants so early in one’s career. Iowa State is Wang’s first full-time position following graduation from Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to applying for grants totaling $3 million, Wang had never even written a proposal.

He attributes much of his recent success to his colleagues, especially Distinguished Professor Jim McCalley, Sandbulte Professor Ian Dobson,  Nicholas Professor Venkataramana Ajjarapu and Kimber. McCalley and Kimber taught Wang how to write proposals from their past experiences. In addition to the support of his colleagues, Wang mentions how the Iowa State College of Engineering and the department have urged him to pursue research areas.

Looking forward, these grants are a stepping stone for future research areas for Wang.

“Our future research will build upon the existing topics and grants,” Wang said. “I think we will focus on data-driven analytics and its application to power grids, design and operation of resilient power systems, networked microgrids, power distribution system operation and control with a high penetration level of renewable energy.”

By building on his research in power systems, Wang can contribute to America’s energy future.