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Open joint PhD position

Call for joint PhD Applications: On the Design and Operation of Low Voltage Electrical Networks for Resilient Zero-Carbon Districts

We invite applications for a joint PhD position at Concordia University (CU) located in Montréal, Canada and the City University of New York, City College (CCNY) located in New York, USA.

The successful candidate will be co-supervised by Professor Ursula Eicker (CU) and Professor Ahmed Mohamed (CCNY) and will spend about two years at each institution. Tuition fees and stipend will be covered for the period of the PhD program. The PhD position is entitled, “On the Design and Operation of Low Voltage Electrical Networks for Resilient Zero-Carbon Districts.”

A future zero-carbon grid will consist of a myriad of distributed energy resources (DERs), including photovoltaic and wind generators, micro-CHP units, energy storage systems (ESS), and flexible loads. DERs are geographically distributed in urban areas and are connected to the low–voltage grid at multiple points of common coupling. The power grid of the near future will need to accommodate additional electricity demand due to the electrification of heating and transportation.

A distribution grid with a high penetration of renewable energy (e.g., >50%) has to deal with the intrinsic intermittency in the power supply, voltage regulation and angle/voltage stability problems, and protection coordination issues under rapidly changing states of the power system. ESS and flexible loads have the potential to provide some flexibility. Capacitor banks and smart inverters can provide the required reactive power support. DERs are likely to be virtually aggregated through the utility, or a third-party DER aggregator. Aggregated DERs can form partial-feeder, feeder, or area substation community microgrids. Community microgrids facilitate integration of DERs from both technical and financial perspectives. In addition, they substantially increase the resiliency of the power grid by islanding themselves during blackouts.

In this PhD work, models for distribution grids and microgrids shall be developed for analyzing the performance of networks supplied with high renewable energy fractions under various load/generation scenarios over the entire seasonal changes. Dimensioning of components, such as ESS and V2X units, which are needed to match volatile generation and fluctuating loads shall be considered. Another important question that will be addressed is the optimization of spatial placement of generation and storage capacity in urban areas and of local versus more central generation capacities in terms of performance, but also resilience.

The to-be-developed models should be capable of interfacing with larger urban simulation models that evaluate the energy demand associated with buildings and with the transportation sector.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Applicants must at a minimum fulfill the PhD admission criteria at both institution (e.g., TOEFL and GRE requirements).
  • Please, visit the PhD program page at each institution for further details.
  • B.S. degree (required) in Electrical Engineering, or a closely related field
  • Solid background in power systems and renewable energy 
  • Strong programming skills and ability to learn new programming languages and tools


Preferred Qualifications:

  • M.S. degree (preferred) in Electrical Engineering
  • Solid background in power systems, renewable energy, and microgrids evidenced by a track record of publications
  • Load flow analysis using software packages, such as OpenDSS and PSSE
  • Ability to program in Python and MATLAB
  • Ability to use geographic information system (GIS) software packages, such as ArcGIS is a plus


Application Process:

To be considered for this position, please send your application package to both Ursula Eicker and Ahmed Mohamed, with the following subject line, CU/CCNY Joint PhD Applicant. Emails must include a curriculum vitae, and optionally other supporting documents, such as sample publications. Applications will be received until the position is filled. The tentative starting date of this PhD position is January 2021.

More information:

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