State, University Leaders Gather to Celebrate Research Center Expansion
NCREPT Director Alan Mantooth cuts the ribbon celebrating the center's expansion. Front row from left are: Arkansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren, Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz, Dr. Alan Mantooth, Provost Jim Coleman and College of Engineering Dean John English. Back row: Student researchers Janviere Umuhoza, Andrea Wallace, Daniel Schwartz andJoe Moquin.
Leaders from the government, business and academic communities gathered May 3 to celebrate the expansion of one of the University of Arkansas' leading research centers, the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, also known as NCREPT.
The ceremony was the culmination of a $3 million, 5,000-square-foot investment to expand the research and industry partnership capabilities of the center, which is a collaboration between several universities and does work with more than 50 companies worldwide.
Speakers included Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz, Provost Jim Coleman, College of Engineering Dean John English, Meagan Frank from Senator John Boozman's office and Arkansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Hendren, who is a graduate of the U of A's electrical engineering program.
NCREPT's research is centered on designing, packaging and testing advanced power electronics, especially in relation to the power grid. It supports three other research centers in the Arkansas Research and Technology Park focused on the power grid, electric vehicle development and cyber defense systems.
The expansion allows for a large-scale cybersecurity testbed for electric, oil and natural gas grid emulation, as well as higher power direct current capability and even more safety surrounding the center's high-power equipment.
Those improvements will have a major impact on the research, Mantooth said.
"These new capabilities mean that we can more accurately emulate cyber attacks and test our solutions in a 'closer to real world scenario' before transferring them to industry," he said. "The added DC power capability allows us to test the next generation of solar power electronics that are going to higher voltages."
Steinmetz praised NCREPT's success in bridging the university's research with real-world applications by companies.
"It represents our commitment to advancing knowledge, fostering collaboration, and supporting industry through innovation," he said.
Hendren, who in addition to serving as Senate Majority Leader is also a business owner and a member of the Air National Guard, said NCREPT's research benefitted all three sectors of his professional life.
Research into cybersecurity is critical for governments, businesses and the military, Hendren said, and the work taking place at NCREPT plays a key role in protecting the power supply in Arkansas and beyond.
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