With the continuation of COVID-19 and the determination to continue his work Research Assistant Professor Mohamed El Hariri packed up his small microcontrollers, network switches and other hardware.

“Some people have small home offices, I have a small, mini home lab,” El Hariri said.

But working from home does not mean lower quality. El Hariri opened his email to find that not only would his work be published along with 27 other papers in the 2020 Resilience Week but that he won best paper.

Winning best paper for, “Implementation of IEEE Standard 1547-2018 for DER Communication Interface using Data Distribution Service,” meant more than just being acknowledged.

“It made me happy that my work got recognized and it has potential impact and it means for the project that we have more proof, more solid ground that our work is impactful and moving forward.” El Hariri said.

El Hariri’s work is only becoming more important as the world moves towards renewable energy. The paper proposes the use of a data-centric communication protocol. Distributed energy resource stations such as windmills and solar panels could then seamlessly send information to a data center. This new communication method would provide greater integration, advancement, monitoring and control of emerging green technologies.

Work that El Hariri claims the University of Utah cultivates the perfect environment for.

“I feel that here at the U it is a very supportive environment for collaborative work,” El Hariri said. “The professors are really approachable and nice and here at the lab, we have support from the lab director, Masood Parvania, to pursue innovative research. He leads us into opportunities, seminars to attend and to network with other people to expand our horizons so working at U-Smart lab helps you grow your career as a researcher especially at the early stage.”

Working in the booming smart grid industry, El Hariri raves, is full of potential.

“Whether it’s reliability or communication technology, or security, it is a really, really hot topic right now. Anyone in the ECE field who has the skills and energy to do so, I advise them to embark on it,” El Hariri said. “We need electricity for hospitals, we need electricity for transportation, we need electricity in our homes, we need electricity to run our businesses. There are a lot of open research questions and very interesting challenges and a lot of funding available to do that research.”