Ezzat Khalafalla: Looking Back, Looking Forward

April 21, 2011
When it comes to power system analysis, SELU instructor Ezzat B. Khalafalla recommends a broad approach that encompasses the tried-and-true methods of the past and the innovative solutions of the present.

When it comes to power system analysis, SELU instructor Ezzat B. Khalafalla recommends a broad approach that encompasses the tried-and-true methods of the past and the innovative solutions of the present. The power system of 2011, he says, is similar to the power system of 1930—“[It] consists of three principal components, the generating stations, the transmission lines, and the distribution systems. . . but the performance requirements, energy magnitudes, state-of-the-art design, and protection and control are vastly different.”

Unlike many technologies that emerged over the last few decades (some that would not exist without a computer), the core and structure of the power system, according to Khalafalla, is still composed of equipment that resembles vintage apparatus dating back an entire century. Naturally, there have been innovations in size, complexity, and sophistication. “Looking back,” he says, “it is amazing that complex power systems were successfully designed, built, and operated based on rule-of-thumb and hand calculations.”

Just like in days gone by, modern society expects reliable, secure, and high-quality electric power. “Some of the greatest challenges facing our world today,” says Khalafalla, “involve discovering new sources of energy, obtaining an essentially inexhaustible supply of energy for the future, making energy available wherever needed, and converting energy from one form to another. We also need to use energy without creating pollution.” Ecological awareness is one characteristic, Khalafalla says, that makes the new generation of energy engineers, particularly protection engineers, different from their predecessors.

Innovative research in digital protection relaying and control fields will ensure that there is a continual, reliable, and secure supply of electricity for future generations. “With the advent of the digital computer,” Khalafalla tells us, “there is [a sudden and unmet] demand for engineers capable of applying digital protection, communication, and computing expertise to boost electrical power systems’ reliability and security.” In other words, instructors will continue to play an integral role in the electric power industry.

Khalafalla’s teaching philosophy combines theory and hands-on practice. “The goals of the power system protection courses,” he says, “include the establishment of a theoretical understanding of each topic as well as the development of practical problem solving abilities in the real world of generation, transmission, and distribution areas. . . .” His decade of teaching experience crosses a broad range of topics, from power system analysis and high-voltage substation and transmission line engineering design to distribution systems and grounding.

Khalafalla earned his PhD in Electrical Power from the University of Pittsburgh, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received second prize for one of the best IEEE/ASME published papers in 1997 at the April 1998 Joint Railroad Conference IEEE/ASME; third place for one of the best IEEE vehicular technology published papers in 1991 at the April 1992 Joint Railroad Conference IEEE/ASME; and the Notable Engineering Achievement Award in 1991 at the Engineering Societies of Delaware Valley Area.

Khalafalla’s job fulfills him most when he can create opportunities to promote excellence in power system technology with an emphasis on protection and reliability. He trains individuals to understand engineering principles, confidently apply these principles to practical problems, and tackle new challenges. And just as Khalafalla recommends a broad approach to power system analysis, his courses provide a comprehensive knowledge base in power systems, emphasizing state-of-the-art protection and control for various power systems apparatus.

When Khalafalla needs a break from his busy career, he takes walks on the beach. He is very thankful for the advances in modern civilization.

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