Kolla to teach, research as Fulbright-Nehru Fellow in India

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Dr. Sri Kolla, a professor of electronics and computer engineering technology, left the cold of northwest Ohio for the warmth of India this January to serve as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. An expert in the application of artificial intelligence to smart electrical grids, Kolla will teach classes and work with researchers there to develop systems that properly control and protect the electrical power network.

“It’s the merging of information technology with the electrical power grid,” he said. “It can help with both control and protection.”

The effort has great potential for countries worldwide, as the energy supply struggles to keep up with growing demands by integrating renewable energy sources. “For example, we can learn to detect blackouts early on and prevent them,” Kolla said. “We can also develop systems to forecast the load demand and automatically begin generating power to meet that need.”

Kolla has already applied these “cyberphysical system” concepts in an actual electrical power setting. Last year, he mentored BGSU graduate student Xiaohan Ni in a project with the Bowling Green Municipal Utility that looked at load forecasting, a very important aspect of smart grids, Kolla said. Using MATLAB and other software, they conducted simulations using artificial neural networks and support vector machines, which use algorithms to analyze data, to determine the call for energy in various areas.

This will be Kolla’s second stay at the Indian Institute of Science as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar. His first visit, in 2008-09, was entirely devoted to research with colleagues there. This stay will also include teaching a course on special topics in power systems in the Department of Electrical Engineering and collaborating on curricular development. He will also give a number of guest lectures at other institutes and universities in the region.

Since his first Fulbright to India, Kolla has made multiple visits back to give guest lectures at various institutions and has remained in contact with fellow researchers at Bangalore. He has also served as an external Ph.D. examiner for students at the institute, which is a predominantly graduate-level institution with about 3,500 students, about 2,200 of whom are doctoral students.

In addition to his earlier Fulbright service, during a 2000-01 faculty improvement leave from BGSU, he was a guest researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Intelligent Systems Division, studying the computer networking hardware involved in control systems.

Kolla joined the College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering in 1993 and has helped to develop the electronics and computer engineering technology program. “We were very pleased when our degree program recently received ABET accreditation,” he said. “It represented 10 years of work by our faculty.” Accreditation will help attract more students to the program, he said, which is already attracting international students.

He is a fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India) and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the International Society of Automation. He has published more than 100 book chapters, journal articles, conference proceedings and reports and has received grants from the National Science Foundation, NIST and the Ohio Board of Regents, among others.