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  • To maintain programs in Electric Energy Systems education, research and outreach, and related interdisciplinary areas, that provide the highest value to our stakeholders.


  • To educate power system engineers who understand the engineering aspects of Electric Power Systems, as well as the economics, management, and societal aspects of the Power Engineering profession
  • To perform research that advances engineering science and provides tangible benefits to the power industry
  • To provide value to the broad community through continuing education, professional service activity, and outreach



EUMP and Power Program background

From the introduction of its first electrical engineering course in 1907, the New Mexico State University College of Engineering has gained prominence as a leader in electric power research and education. NMSU faculty and students conduct critical research aimed to modernize and increase the reliability of the power grid to ensure access to affordable, reliable, clean electricity.


Associate Professor Olga Lavrova, previously from Sandia National Laboratories, took up the NMSU power program baton in 2019 and is now leading the effort with an emphasis on renewable energy and workforce development.


“Our research projects range from fundamental device development to big electric grid systems analysis,” said Associate Professor Olga Lavrova.


Projects involve very small residential devices, such as smart inverters or smart meters to convert current power generated by solar panels or energy storage devices and deliver power to the electric grid or a microgrid. On a large scale, they are developing a new transformer topology for solid-state transmission of energy to offer more reliability in conversion of energy from renewable sources of energy than do traditional transformers.


Research objectives are to demonstrate and evaluate these technologies in a controlled environment, which is provided by the NMSU’s “living laboratory,” as described by NMSU Chancellor and President Dan Arvizu. Supporting this research is NMSU’s new, 3-megawatt solar array built by El Paso Electric Co. on the NMSU campus this past year and now supplies one-third of campus power needs. A dedicated Power Systems Laboratory receives real-time data from El Paso Electric, regional grids and from on-campus power systems. The lab monitors and stores the data on its own servers for processing and analysis.


The end goal, added Lavrova, is to upgrade the traditional electric substation located on the NMSU campus with a prototypical solid-state transfer station and provide improved and more accurate control of power flow and further smart-device functions.


“The big picture is to provide grid operation stability. We are looking at all aspects of this starting from device design all the way to planning, controls and working with local utilities and governments to look at the regulations and policies needed to help us upgrade our electrical grid,” Lavrova said.


Earlier this year, Lavrova began working on the “Advancing Clean Energy and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure for the city of Las Cruces” project. Her research team is evaluating suitable locations for solar photovoltaic installations and electric vehicle charger installations. The city has plans to move toward an electric-vehicle fleet.


More recently, Lavrova began work on a project using solar panels to partially shade crops that may benefit New Mexico’s chile and tomato producers. Both crops are highly susceptible to Curly Top Virus, caused by Beet Leafhoppers, creating serious crop losses. Efforts to combat the disease yielded mixed results, but it has been demonstrated the pests avoid feeding on and thereby infecting plants growing in shaded areas. This project will evaluate degree of protection to crops provided by solar panels, as well as potential benefits from electricity generation.


As a co-principal investigator, Lavrova is preparing to begin work on the Western Grid Security Innovation Center’s “Erroneous Alarms and Malicious Events Detection” project, which is led by Arizona State University. This project will specifically concentrate on cybersecurity for electric utilities and co-ops to increase technology that keeps the grid safe from cyberattacks.


Colleagues Di Shi and Fengyu Wang, also professors in the Klipsch School, are developing market-rate design for grids with very high renewable penetration and using artificial intelligence to modernize the infrastructure.


Collaborators from other departments at NMSU are involved in these projects, along with the University of New Mexico, Sandia National Laboratories, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Public Service Company of New Mexico, El Paso Electric, Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant and regional electric co-ops are partners, too.


“Our relationship with the electric companies is invaluable. This enables us to perform experimentation on a large scale and develop a framework for lasting capacity analysis,” said Lavrova.


At the same time, these research collaborations focus on developing a highly qualified workforce to put findings into action to meet the goals of the New Mexico Energy Transition Act. Enacted in 2019, the act set a statewide renewable energy standard of 50% by 2030 for investor-owned utilities and rural electric cooperatives and a goal of 80% by 2040, in addition to setting zero-carbon resources standards by 2050. 


Contributing to that goal is NMSU’s Electric Utility Management Program (EUMP), a concentration track and research program, which has produced numerous leaders in the industry since its inception in 1952. The program prepares power system engineers who understand the engineering aspects of electric power systems, as well as the complexities related to the economics, management and societal concerns. The program prides itself in significant diversity across multiple ethnic and racial groups, with almost 65% of students being Hispanic and 26% female.


“Workforce development for STEM fields within the state of New Mexico is of great importance,” said Lavrova. “It is important for our New Mexico-grown talent to get both the education here and get good jobs here as well. Creating desirable employment opportunities within the state is crucial for New Mexico’s success, especially given the New Mexico Energy Transition Act. These high-demand, impactful jobs in environmental health mean talent stays in the Land of Enchantment.”