One of electrical engineering’s high honors is going to a Clemson University alumnus who returned to his alma mater where he specializes in how to protect the electrical grid and other power systems from disturbances that can lead to blackouts.

 Sukumar Brahma was elevated to Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a professional society with 419,000 members. Less than 0.1% of voting members are selected annually for this elevation. 

Sukumar Brahma of Clemson University is one of the few professors in the nation to specialize in power system protection.

Sukumar Brahma of Clemson University is one of the few professors in the nation to specialize in power system protection.

IEEE cited Brahma’s “contributions to power system protection with distributed and renewable generation.”

“It’s an honor to have my work noticed by my peers,” Brahma said. “Recognition as Fellow is especially significant. There are a lot of talented people on the list of Fellows, and I’m humbled to have my name on it. I thank all who have supported me and those who nominated me.”

Brahma received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Clemson in 2003, left to build his career and returned in 2018 as the Dominion Energy Distinguished Professor of Power Engineering.

His peers have credited him with a number of career accomplishments.

 As a Ph.D. student, Brahma conducted some of the seminal research into protecting distribution systems with a large penetration of distributed generation. His work initiated a discussion that led to changes in the pertinent standard.

 In 2011, Brahma became the first to publish a comprehensive fault location method for distribution systems with a high penetration of distributed generation. The method does not require any measurements except at the generation terminals.

Brahma was also among the first researchers to investigate accurate phasor-domain short-circuit models of renewable sources. He provided comprehensive insight into the behavior of different types of wind turbine generators and developed a validated short-circuit model for each type. 

Brahma extended this work to explore protection issues in microgrids fed by renewable sources.

 At Clemson, Brahma plays a crucial role in teaching students the basics of electrical power engineering and how to apply what they have learned to utilities’ systems, a major industry need.

 By studying power system protection under Brahma, students are well positioned to help incorporate solar, wind and other renewable energy into the grid.

 Hai Xiao, chair of the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said that Brahma’s elevation to Fellow is well deserved.

 “IEEE is the largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity,” Xiao said. “Recognition as Fellow is a high honor. For Dr. Brahma, it is a reflection of his extraordinary accomplishments. I offer him my most sincere congratulations.”