Engineering student wins Best Paper award at EEA conference

Electrical and Electronic Engineering PhD Student Safa Al-Sachit has won the Best Paper Award at the 2018 Electricity Engineers’ Association (EEA) conference.

Safa’s paper was titled “Investigating Travelling Wave Fault Location Techniques for Distribution Assets” and aims to develop a modern technique in power system protection. As Safa explains, this focus on reliability challenges was one of the main reasons her paper was awarded the top prize.

“Due to the huge development in the electricity sector with renewable energy resources and power electronic devices it becomes challenging to have a good and reliable network. My paper tried to fix some security issues in distribution network by detecting and locating faults in the network rapidly and accurately, particularly with the complication of having mixed lines and cables in a meshed distribution network,” she says.

The paper was also chosen due to the reliability and sensitivity of the algorithm it presented and the ability to use it on a real power network. Proving this point, there were offers from power companies to test it based on the research contained in Safa’s paper. This vote of confidence, along with Safa’s ability to present and argue for her research, also contributed to the EEA’s decision.

Safa is part of the Power Systems Group in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which has a proud record of achievement in the EEA awards. Three past students were awarded Best Paper in the years 2007 to 2009, while last year the group’s Research Leader Associate Professor Nirmal Nair received the Best Paper for Non-Members in 2017.

The support and direction of the Power Systems Group helped Safa in her research. She mentions the ongoing advice from her Supervisor Associate Professor Nirmal Nair, who was extremely impressed she achieved a milestone like this before reaching her provisional year review. The support from the group’s new Technical Officer Mohammad Aldarwesh in setting up the experiment was important to her success too. Safa’s work also aligns with the group’s research themes.

“Most of our group work is focused on how to keep the electrical power network safe, resilient and reliable. The presented technique helps in rapid power restoring and could save the network’s equipment from serious damage that a fault could cause,” she says.

Safa is excited about what the award means for her research and will continue to work on these challenges alongside the rest of the Power Systems Group.

“Being recognised and awarded by elite electrical engineers is just an honour and a big achievement to me. It gives me motivation to keep going and try to come up with even more innovative ideas when it comes to protect the power system network.”