CPES - a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (1998-2008)

The Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) was established as a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (NSF ERC) in 1998 with a consortium of 5 universities, including Virginia Tech (VT), University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), North Carolina A&T State University (NCAT), and University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM). The Center’s mission is to develop advanced electronic power conversion technologies for efficient electric energy utilization through multidisciplinary engineering research and education in the field of power electronics. The research vision is to enable dramatic improvements in the performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of electric energy processing systems by developing an integrated system approach via integrated power electronics modules (IPEM). The envisioned IPEM solution is based on the integration of new generation of devices, innovative circuits and functions in the form of building blocks with standard functionalities and interfaces to facilitate the integration of these building blocks into application-specific system solutions. Furthermore, proposed IPEM approach is deemed quite suitable for automated manufacturing and mass production. Various versions of IPEM have been successfully commercialized, such as, in motor drives and power management solutions for microprocessors.

CPES's research program adopts the "integrated power electronics modules (IPEM)" approach and includes three major areas: Fundamental Knowledge, Enabling Technology, and Engineered Systems. Fundamental Knowledge centers on development of advanced power semiconductors, integratable materials, high-density integration, thermal-mechanical integration, and control and sensor integration. The Enabling Technology is focused on the IPEM design and synthesis techniques encompassing electro-magneto-thermal-mechanical integration. The Engineered Systems is designed to demonstrate the IPEM-based system integration concept to a wide range of distributed power systems and applications.

The CPES industrial collaboration and technology transfer program is our means of embracing industry in carrying out the Center's mission. It encompasses four components: 1) the industrial partnership program, 2) research collaboration, 3) connectivity partnerships, and 4) technology transfer.

The Center's education and outreach programs consist of seven components: 1) curriculum development, integration, and distance access; 2) inter-campus collaboration and exchange; 3) undergraduate curriculum development and research experience; 4) student leadership; 5) pre-college outreach; 6) student recruitment; and 7) industry/academia outreach.