The Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Award recognizes an individual age 40 or younger who has advanced rapidly over the course of his or her career and has displayed significant achievement in the areas of leadership and professional success.
Ph.D. Electrical Engineering (’06), Illinois Institute of Technology
From early on in his academic career, Khaligh stood out. He ranked first among electrical power engineers in his undergraduate class and master’s class at Sharif University of Technology, Iran’s most competitive engineering school. At Illinois Tech, Khaligh took his Ph.D. qualifying exam in his first semester and again placed first among the electrical and computer engineers, remarkably finishing his degree in 21 months. Following graduation he did postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then took a professorship at Illinois Tech before moving to his current role as associate professor at University of Maryland.
At the University of Maryland Khaligh funded a research program on power electronics and pioneered the power electronics academic program there, attracting more than $5 million in research grants as a principal investigator or a co-principal investigator. He also became an expert for the National Science Foundation’s Energy, Power, Control, and Networks Program, a recognition highly unusual at such a young age. Khaligh has received four teaching awards and various research awards and has published or presented more than 150 papers and books.
Khaligh published the first paper on the design of a super-light electronic interface and power supply to make insect-sized microrobots autonomous. He also published the first paper on the design of an integrated charger and direct current-to-direct current converter for plug-in electric vehicles, an innovation that makes vehicles lighter and more efficient. This paper and two more on hybrid energy-storage systems and power electronics for electric transportation earned him three Best Vehicular Electronics Paper Awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Khaligh followed Ali Emadi, who was a few years ahead of him and first in his class at Sharif University of Technology, to Illinois Tech to study under Emadi for his Ph.D. Emadi, now a professor at McMaster University in Canada, writes of Khaligh: “His outstanding leadership, teaching, and original contributions to engineering as well as his exceptional potential for future research are really second to none of someone in their early career.”
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