ISyE Anderson-Interface Early Career Professor Andy Sun Awarded Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Jun 8, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

Andy Sun, the Anderson-Interface Early Career Professor in Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), has been awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of the early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of their organization’s mission.

“We couldn’t be more excited for Andy upon his receipt of the NSF CAREER Award,” said Edwin Romeijn, the H. Milton and Carolyn J. Stewart School Chair at ISyE. “At this stage in his career, he has already proven to be a talented researcher. This grant will support the important research he is conducting on optimization and stochastic modeling, particularly with applications in electric energy systems and electricity markets.”

The CAREER grant amount is $500,000. Sun’s project is titled “Data-driven Dynamic Adaptive Optimization for Next Generation Power System Operation.” With this grant, he will examine what happens when power companies add more renewable energy resources to their systems.

“Wind and solar are growing pretty fast in the U.S., so they add considerable uncertainty into the system,” Sun said. “This changes the power system from a deterministic one to a stochastic system.”

In other words, because renewable resources are largely weather-dependent, it has become increasingly challenging for power companies to predict their availability in forecasts. Sun is working to develop a methodology that allows for incorporating advanced uncertainty models of renewable resources into the optimization of daily power grid operations. The goal of Sun’s work is to increase the robustness – or reliability – in energy systems.

“This is very important for power systems because you want the power system to be functioning. So, reliability is the first priority,” Sun said.

The new framework proposed by Sun will significantly improve power system reliability over the existing practice and at the same time save cost.  

The second aspect of Sun’s grant work will focus on understanding the mathematical structures of physical flow models in the power system. The so-called power flow model is a fundamental building block of almost all aspects of power system operations. The physics of voltages and currents dictates a highly complex mathematical object, which, despite intense research over the past several decades, is still poorly understood. Sun’s recent work with his students and collaborators sheds new light on how to develop new formulations for the power flow models. This may lead to deeper understanding and new algorithms for managing large-scale power grids.

Three power companies supported Sun’s grant proposal and are collaborating with him on his research, which will run through February 28, 2023: 1) ISO New England, which is the system operator of six states in the Northeast electricity market, focusing on a long-term collaboration advancing robust optimization for its power system; 2) Southern Company, the largest utility company in the Southeast, focusing on short-term trading and long-term investment of renewable energy resources; and 3) RTE, the French transmission system operator, whose engineers invented the optimal power flow problem and are working with Sun to solve this fundamental problem.

About Anderson-Interface Early Career Professor Andy Sun

Sun is an assistant professor in ISyE. His doctoral thesis won the second prize of the 2011 INFORMS George B. Dantzig Award, given for the best dissertation in any area of operations research and the management sciences that is innovative and relevant to practice. His paper, “Adaptive Robust Optimization for Security-constrained Unit Commitment Problem” has been highly cited and helped form a new area of research of optimization under uncertainty in electric power systems.

Sun’s research has also won several paper awards, among which, “Multistage Adaptive Robust Optimization for the Unit Commitment Problem” won the first prize of the 2017 INFORMS Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment Section Best Paper in Energy Award. “An Adaptive Optimization-based Load Shedding Scheme in Microgrids” received the Best Paper Award at the 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences in 2018. He has had numerous papers published in flagship journals in both power systems and operations research, such as IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, Operations Research, and Mathematical Programming.

In 2011, he received a Ph.D. in operations research from the Operations Research Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor's degree in electronic engineering from Tsinghua University. Before joining ISyE, Sun spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

  • Anderson-Interface Early Career Professor Andy Sun
    Anderson-Interface Early Career Professor Andy Sun