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Anil Pahwa: Teaching from a Distance

Nov. 6, 2014
Since 1992, Kansas State University has been offering distance-learning courses for an M.S. degree in electrical engineering with power systems emphasis.

Since 1992, Kansas State University has been offering distance-learning courses for an M.S. degree in electrical engineering with power systems emphasis. The program started as part of the Kansas City Educational Network, and the original objective was to offer graduate-level classes in engineering and computer science via live television with two-way audio to professionals working at companies in the Kansas City metropolitan area. A compressed video signal was sent via telephone lines to a broadcast facility in Kansas City, which in turn broadcast it to several receiving sites.

K-State still offers distance learning, but much has changed since 1992. Now graduate students can take all the courses they need to complete the degree online and travel to K-State in Manhattan, Kansas, one time at the end of their program for an oral examination. Currently, 30 students are enrolled.

Dr. Anil Pahwa is the “father of K-State distance power program,” according to Noel Schultz, Kansas State University's associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering  and president of the IEEE PES from 2012-2013.

The program allows students to continue working at jobs critical to the power industry while “going to college.” Pahwa, the Logan-Fetterhoof Endowed Chair Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kansas State University, said that the courses are focused on engaging the students with the subject matter to enhance their learning.

Pahwa has taught courses on power system analysis, power system protection, and distribution systems, and with his 31 years of experience as faculty member at Kansas State University, he is well-qualified to lead the distance power program.

Pahwa originally chose to go into the field of power and energy systems “because power and energy are essential for economic and social wellbeing of society and the world.  I wanted to make contributions related to that,” he said. “While an undergraduate student, I didn’t think about becoming a professor, but during graduate studies I made this decision.”

Pahwa received Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 1983, his M.S. from University of Maine in 1979, and B. E. (Honors) from BITS-Pilani, India in 1975, all in electrical engineering. He served as department head of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kansas State University from 2004 to 2007.  Dr. Pahwa has served as officer in several IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) committees over the past 20 years.  He was Chair of the Power and Energy Education Committee in 2012 and 2013, and presently he is an editor of IEEE Transactions on Power Systems. 

His research and teaching interests include smart grid, distribution system planning, intelligent computational methods for power systems, renewable energy, and sustainability. He has worked on several research projects sponsored by the utilities in Kansas, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. 

Pahwa has also had extensive international experience. His research on power and energy has taken him to several countries including Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Cape Verde, and Turkey. As a faculty adviser for the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, he has guided students on projects in India, Guatemala, and Ecuador. From 2007 to 2011, he served as the electrical engineering coordinator for a World Bank-funded project to strengthen higher education in Afghanistan.  In 2007, he spent approximately three weeks at Kabul University to prepare a new curriculum, and mentor faculty and students.

Now Pahwa said that he would like to upgrade the existing courses in the K-State program. “Power and energy is a rapidly evolving area due to integration of renewable energy resources and smart grid technologies,” Pahwa said. “This program prepares students for the current needs of the industry.”

Pahwa wants to instill in students that they should do what they are most passionate about because that is how one can excel in work. He is passionate about K-State and the ECE distance learning program and enjoys the flexibility and freedom to do what he likes to do.

Pahwa also enjoys photography in his spare time.

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