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When the National Science Foundation and US Department of Energy chose UT to serve as lead institution for its new engineering research center in 2011, the impact was felt far beyond the $18 million in support.

Can Huang_Can_HuangOne of the key goals of the initiative, known as the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks, or CURENT, was to attract top minds from around the world—and the varying perspectives they bring—to UT.

Once here, those students help researchers resolve issues surrounding the nation’s power system, including developing a high-efficiency low-cost grid that can be monitored and controlled in real time.

Under the leadership of the College of Engineering’s CTI Molecular Imaging Chair and Professor Kevin Tomsovic and Governor’s Chair for Power Electronics Yilu Liu, CURENT has brought in such visionaries in spades.

The latest example of that success is Can Huang, an electrical engineering doctoral candidate who was recently honored with the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad.

“I truly feel honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Huang. “I am thankful for the recognition given by my home country and for the support I receive from CURENT and my adviser, Dr. Fran Li.”

Founded by the Chinese government’s Ministry of Education in 2003, the award is developed to honor overseas Chinese students. It includes a $6,000 prize and a certificate issued by the China Scholarship Council.

Recipients are selected through a rigorous process of evaluation of their academic and research work, involving assessment by experts in both the host country and China.

“This award is an extremely competitive,” said Li, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “It really honors only the most elite of the top students that China has around the world.”

With just 500 students selected worldwide out of the 500,000 Chinese students studying abroad, Huang is in the top 0.1 percent.

At UT, Huang’s research focuses on the advanced control, communication, and computing methods for power systems and power electronics. He has had more than ten peer-reviewed papers in top international journals and has a particular interest in improving renewable energy.

“Huang has actively been involved as a research assistant with CURENT for more than three years,” said Liu. “His accomplishments as a graduate student reflect well on him and the work he has put in.

“This award is a result of that hard work.”

Huang’s work recently gained some high-profile acknowledgement in the United States as well, with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California extending him an offer to work there after graduation.

“I was fortunate to receive job offers from national labs, universities, and manufacturers. I chose the national lab as I dream to bridge the gap between academics and industry,” said Huang. “Energy use isn’t going to go down, so we have to find practical ways of making it more effective.”



David Goddard (865-974-0683,