ECE Faculty Spotlight: Tianqi Hong

“I really like to solve complex engineering problems in the simplest way. Sometimes, the simplest way can also balance performance and cost best.” -Tianqi Hong, Assistant Professor

We welcome Dr. Tianqi Hong as a new Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering! Prior to his arrival at UGA, Dr. Hong worked at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Dr. Hong’s specialties are in power systems, power electronics and microgrid control. Professor Hong’s office and lab can be found on the ground floor of the Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center.

Hometown: Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

What did you study in college and where did you earn your degrees?
I got my Ph.D. from New York University. I have my MS degrees from New York University and Southeast University, China. I got my BS from Hohai University, China. My major is electrical engineering with power system focus.

What brought you to UGA? After several years of industry experience, I found I want to work in an academic environment. UGA is a very good place that offers the perfect work-life balance and research-teaching balance.

What are your research interests and what motivated you to pursue this area of study?
My primary focus lies in the domains of power system analysis and power electronics systems. In today’s rapidly advancing technological landscape, power stands as the cornerstone. Ensuring a consistent and reliable electricity supply has never been more crucial. With the push towards ambitious carbon reduction targets, we’re seeing an accelerated integration of renewable energy sources into established power systems. This evolution is catalyzing transformative shifts in the power industry, profoundly influencing the control and management of power systems. It’s this dynamic and impactful landscape that drives my passion and commitment to these areas.

What current or new research projects do you currently have happening in your lab?
I am currently working on several projects in the areas of power systems and microgrids, including dynamic simulation platform development, power system protection, and microgrid control.

How long have you been an instructor in engineering and what inspires you to teach or do research in your field?
I was a lab instructor when I was a Ph.D. student at New York University. I also worked as the supervisor of Ph.D. interns and postdocs at Argonne National Laboratory. I think teaching is very important and interesting. I like to solve practical problems and push my area forward from an engineering perspective.

What research accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
In power systems area, my main research accomplishment is to develop a comprehensive voltage control framework for distribution systems. It covers advanced distributed energy resource modeling, multi-region operation, and data-driven approaches.

For power electronics systems, I have designed and commercialized a fuel-cell based heavy-duty electric vehicle for package delivery.

What skills do you think are most important for students to succeed in engineering and what methods do you use to ensure the students you engage with learn the skills they need?
I think the most important skill for students to succeed in engineering is to break complex problems into simpler and smaller ones. Apart from regular training for students to create a basic understanding of simple problems, I wish to cultivate the students’ “problem breakdown” skills through course projects. Through the course project, I will work with students to break complex engineering problems into smaller pieces. I will also try to provide real-world examples for students to link the theoretical methods with the bigger picture.

What other professional experience do you have?
After graduation, I first worked at a startup company in the area of transportation electrification. Prior to UGA, I was a principal energy system scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.

How does engineering make the world a better place?
I think engineering is a subject that tries to simplify difficult things and save time. This is quite important for our human beings. Just like the invention of dishwashers that free us from dishwashing, we are trying to offer autonomous operation tools for grid operators to save time and reduce their work risk.

What excites you the most about engineering?
I really like to solve complex engineering problems in the simplest way. Sometimes, the simplest way can also balance performance and cost best.



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