Computer Science Professor Receives Best Paper Award from IEEE



By Casey Moffitt

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The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has recognized an Illinois Institute of Technology professor and his team of researchers for their cybersecurity research on electrical smart grids with a Best Paper Award at the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Communications, Control, and Computing Technologies for Smart Grids (SmartGridComm).

Dong “Kevin” Jin, associate professor of computer science, and his research team have found a way to increase cybersecurity and cyber resilience of smart grid wide-area monitoring systems using software-defined networks (SDN).

“SDN is an exciting networking technology,” Jin says. “Our contribution is to apply SDN into the interesting domain of cybersecurity and cyber resilience of power grids.”

The team of Ph.D. students that Jin assembled for the project applied the SDN to enhance the cyber resiliency of wide-area monitoring systems of power grids by working with the phasor measurement unit (PMU) network, the high-fidelity measurement and monitoring technology used in modern power systems. The research led to the development of a self-healing scheme to quickly recover the PMU network against malicious attacks or system errors.

“SDN allows intelligent and real-time change of the communication path for those PMU measurement data,” says Yangfeng Qu (Ph.D. CS candidate), a student team member and lead author of the paper. “First, we can recover more cases that the classic method cannot. Second, the speed of that recovery is faster.”

Should a part of the PMU network fail, either through attack or a system error, the SDN will redirect the flow of the data collected by the PMU network, keeping the communication network of the power grid operating.

“Critical infrastructures like a power grid are both mission-critical and time-critical,” Jin says. “We need to ensure that the system is restored correctly in real time with no inference on the normal operations.”

The IEEE awards committee recognized the team’s work based on technical excellence, innovation, potential impact to the research community, and clarity of the oral and written presentations. The team included Qu, Gong Chen (Ph.D. CS candidate), Xin Liu (Ph.D. CS candidate), Jiaqi Yan (Ph.D. CS candidate) and Bo Chen, an energy systems scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.

“I am honored to work with talented and hard-working students at Illinois Tech,” Jin says.

Photo: Associate Professor of Computer Science Dong “Kevin” Jin