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Engineering Professor Receives Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award

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A University of Louisiana at Lafayette assistant professor of mechanical engineering is among 37 researchers selected to receive a prestigious junior faculty grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

Dr. Raju Gottumukkala received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from ORAU for his research on cyber-physical systems.

The Powe Award provides $5,000 in “seed money” for research by junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. Gottumukkala also received a matching $5,000 contribution from UL Lafayette.

“The Powe awards recognize the research and professional growth of young faculty and help them to identify new funding opportunities,” said Arlene Garrison, ORAU vice president. “ORAU is proud to support the future of science through these emerging academic leaders.”

Cyber-physical systems are engineered structures combining both computational algorithms and physical components. Some examples include smart cars and smart cities.

Gottumukkala, who is also the director of research for the Informatics Research Institute, and his collaborators are currently working to ensure that all the components of cyber-physical systems can communicate — transmit data — with each other properly.

The research involves examining smart car charging ports, which Gottumukkala said are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Through the charging ports, hackers can infiltrate security systems of the smart buildings to which they are attached.

In addition to the ORAU grant, this project is being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Collaborators for this project include Dr. Paul Darby, an assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering; Dr. Magdy Bayoumi, electrical and computer engineering department head; and Dr. Terrence Chambers, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy.

Gottumukkala has generated more than $7 million in research funding, and several of his research projects have been adopted by the homeland security community, as well.

Prior to working at UL Lafayette, Gottumukkala worked as a research intern with Xerox Research from 2013 to 2014 and then with Oak Ridge National Labs in 2015. Gottumukkala obtained his doctorate in computational analysis and modeling from Louisiana Tech University.

Photo: Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, left, vice president for research, innovation and economic development, and Dr. Joseph Savoie, right, UL Lafayette president, present the prestigious junior faculty grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities to Dr. Raju Gottumukkala, center. (Credit: Doug Dugas/UL Lafayette)