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Fred Wang, UT’s Condra Chair of Excellence in Power Electronics, has been selected for induction as a National Academy of Inventors Fellow for 2017.

Fred WangBeing named an NAI Fellow is one of the highest honors a researcher can receive, with the 912 NAI Fellows—including 29 Nobel laureates—accounting for more than 32,000 issued US patents and $140 billion in revenue.

For Wang, who holds a joint appointment with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and serves as technical director of the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks (CURENT), his work has been mainly on high-power, high-efficiency, and high-density power electronics—technology critical to electrified transportation, wind and solar energy integration, data centers, and industrial automation.

“I am deeply honored to be chosen by my fellow scientists and engineers for this award,” said Wang. “This recognition of the work that my colleagues and I have been able to do is humbling, and serves as inspiration to continue to improve our ideas.”

Wang and his colleagues are working on microgrids, systems that can operate either with the overall power grid or independently.

Microgrids can be particularly helpful in the wake of natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, since they allow power to be restored far sooner than it takes to rebuild a traditional power system.

While the cost to deploy them remains prohibitively high for widespread adaptation, the concept holds enough promise that many CURENT industry partners—like TVA, the Chattanooga Electric Power Board, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Southern Company—have all taken interest, among others.

Wang joins three colleagues in the Tickle College of Engineering as an NAI Fellow: Yilu Liu, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Power Electronics and CURENT deputy director; Mark Dean, John Fisher Distinguished Professor; and Doug Birdwell, professor emeritus.

Selections are made based on peer nominations for innovation and discovery that have “significant impact on society” and help enhance further research.

Wang and the other members of this year’s class will be inducted at a ceremony in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2018.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,