Prof. Ian Hiskens named Vennema Professor

This professorship recognizes Hiskens’ excellent teaching, service, and research in the area of nonlinear (hybrid) systems.

ian hiskens Enlarge

Prof. Ian  Hiskens has been named the Vennema Professor of Engineering. This professorship is given in recognition of Prof. Hiskens’ sustained excellence in research, teaching, and service throughout his career. He will deliver a public lecture Thursday, April 2, 2009.

Professor Hiskens, who joined the faculty September 2008, brings his deep and extensive expertise in the area of Power and Energy Systems to the division of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He has made fundamental contributions to the study of power system dynamics, such as establishing theoretical and practical techniques to predict voltage collapse, and creating trajectory sensitivity analysis techniques for hybrid dynamical systems.

Dr. Hiskens’ primary research interests lie in the analysis of nonlinear (hybrid) systems, in particular system dynamics and control, and numerical techniques. Power systems form his primary applications focus. Current projects include large-scale integration of wind generation, grid controllability, system integration of  plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), dynamics and control of microgrids, and the development of methods for analyzing the impact of uncertainty on system dynamic performance.

His work meshes well with Michigan’s interests in wind turbines and PHEVs. As these technologies proliferate in coming years, enhanced grid controllability will be required to mitigate problems resulting from extreme fluctuations in energy production and consumption. He is currently teaching the course, Grid Integration of Alternative Energy Sources.

Prof. Hiskens earned bachelor’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics from the Capricornia Institute of Advanced Education, and the doctor of philosophy from The University of Newcastle, Australia. He spent more than a decade with the Queensland Electricity Commission, where he held the positions of EMS Security Applications Engineer and Planning Engineer Transmission Systems, before returning to academia. Most recently he was a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

He is Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Research and Education in Power System Dynamics (IREP), Treasurer of the IEEE Systems Council, and a member of the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Power System Dynamic Performance Committee. Professor Hiskens is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and a Chartered Professional Engineer in Australia.

Vennema Professorship

The Vennema Professorship of Engineering was established in 1980 by a gift from Catherine and Ame Vennema, BSE ’32, to support scholars whose teaching and research focus on areas that will have a major impact on the technologies of tomorrow.

Ame and Catherine Vennema were born and brought up in Menominee, Michigan. Ame Vennema did his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, concentrating on geodesy and surveying.

After graduation in 1932, he served for five years with the U.S. Ordnance Corps, then joined Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation as a field engineer. Following active military service during World War II, he returned to the firm as Director of Personnel; in 1952 he became Vice President. Schlumberger, Ltd., the parent company, named him Vice President for Administration in 1958. During his subsequent years with Schlumberger, an international geological exploration and electronics firm and one of the world’s leading petroleum companies, Mr. Vennema held successively more responsible positions, including a seat on the Board of Directors. He retired in 1975, after 10 years as Chairman of the Executive Committee.