Prestigious IEEE Tesla Award won by Sheffield Professor

Professor Zi-Qiang Zhu from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering has received the prestigious 2021 IEEE Nikola Tesla Award for outstanding contributions to the generation and utilisation of electric power.

Headshot of Zi-Qiang Zhu

Professor Zi-Qiang Zhu from the University of Sheffield has won the prestigious 2021 IEEE Nikola Tesla Award for outstanding contributions to the generation and utilisation of electric power, research which will increase the UK’s supply of clean and affordable energy. The award recognised Professor Zhu’s contributions to the design, modeling, control and application of ac permanent magnet machines and drives. 

Professor Zhu previously received the 2019 IEEE Industry Application Society Outstanding Achievement Award, for the application of electricity to industry.  Professor Zhu, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, is the Head of the Electrical Machines and Drives (EMD) Research Group, which is a recognised world leader in pioneering research on permanent magnet machines and drives.  

The Group’s key strengths lie in its integrated fundamental and applied research on enabling technologies which are vital to future developments in electrical power engineering. Past work with Siemens Gamesa includes developing novel high reliability, high efficiency, high power density direct-drive permanent magnet generators which helped the company to achieve its goal to be the market leader in offshore wind power.

The EMD  Group and Siemens Gamesa are currently leading the UK EPSRC funded Prosperity Partnership ‘A New Partnership in Offshore Wind’ which is a collaboration between industry leaders Siemens Gamesa and Orsted and academics from The University of Sheffield, Durham University and The University of Hull. Their objective is to address the fundamental research problems which will help to reduce the cost of electricity supplied by offshore wind. 

The EMD Group has a proven track record of translating  research and development into commercial successes for applications encompassing many different market sectors.  An example of this is the long standing relationship Professor Zhu has with the Midea Group, with whom the Group developed high performance and low cost innovative permanent magnet motors and drives.  Led by Professor Zhu as Director of the Research & Development Centre this combination of direct collaboration between academia and industry, including the employment of skilled alumni from the EMD Group, helped Midea to become the global leading electric motor manufacturer of consumer appliances.

On receiving the Award Professor Zhu said “It is a great honour to receive the most prestigious IEEE award in our technical field. This is a recognition of not only my personal research achievement, but also the strength of electrical engineering research at Sheffield. It confirms that the Electrical Machines and Drives Research Group is the global leader in research and development on permanent magnet machines and drives, with applications ranging from electric vehicles, more electric aircraft, fast train propulsion and domestic appliances to renewable energy.”

The IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organisation dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. The Nikola Tesla Award is named in honor of Nikola Tesla, a pioneer in many fields, who is most renowned for the development of the ac induction motor.  

IEEE President Mr Toshio Fukuda said in his email to Professor Zhu: 

“For nearly a century, the IEEE Awards Program has paid tribute to technical professionals whose exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions have made a lasting impact on technology, society, and the engineering profession. Each year the IEEE Awards Board recommends a select group of recipients to receive IEEE's most prestigious honors, so you can feel justifiably proud.”

Vice President of the Faculty of Engineering Professor Mike Hounslow agrees: 

“Since joining the University in 1988 Professor Zhu’s research has ensured that the Electrical Machines and Drives Group and the University are recognised by industry and academia as being world leading.  I am very proud of the long standing relationships Professor Zhu has nurtured between the University and industry leaders such as Siemens Gamesa and Midea, and the real impact his research has had within industry.  This highly prestigious award is well deserved.” 

For more information on the work that the Electrical Machines and Drives Research Group undertake please contact

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