SMART, the Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team, converges Information Technology, Communication Engineering and Computing fields to develop prototypes and solutions for complex applied research problems. Our group conducts applied R&D in emerging and next generation technologies and helps stimulate BC’s IT industry through joint, collaborative industry, academic, and government research.
BCIT’s Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) is a multi-faceted research team with skills and expertise in a variety of disciplines. In addition to employing a team of full-time researchers, this group draws on the expertise of BCIT faculty, staff and students and a network of research partners from industry, government, and universities across Canada.
If you have a potential project in mind, ask a SMART research expert.
Dr. Vidya Vankayala has more than 30 years of experience in the utility and hi-tech sectors. Dr. Vankayala has helped large utility companies in grid modernization, distribution automation, microgrid development, smart energy program management, and cyber/physical system security.
Previously with Powertech Labs Inc., Dr. Vankayala was responsible for the Grid Modernization team, which included distribution automation, telecom, EV, mobile applications, and the world-class High-Power Lab which offers unique grid-connected testing and validation services to the utility industry.
Dr. Vankayala received a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Andhra University and a master’s degree in Power Systems from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. He also holds a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Calgary and has extensive training in management and team leadership during his tenure at BC Transmission and BC Hydro.
He lives in Burnaby with his wife and son. In his spare time, he pursues music as a serious passion. Vidya is a member of several world-renowned jazz music ensembles in the Vancouver area and is a sought-after teacher of South Indian classical music. He is the Founder and current board member of a local non-profit focused on Indian music and dance.
Clay has over twenty five years’ experience in project management, software development, distributed systems and data communications. Currently, he is the Technical Lead on the Smart Microgrid research initiative at BCIT and coordinates activities of researchers in the areas of energy management, renewable generation integration, substation automation, smart metering, and electric vehicles (EVs) & charging stations. Clay is an advocate of EVs and owns and drives a Nissan Leaf.
Kelly Carmichael has 22 years of experience working in the Information Technology (IT) industry. His IT work experience ranges from employment in an embryonic entrepreneurial start up firm all the way up to large multinational giant IBM. Kelly has been involved in development projects spanning from complex distributed systems to low level operating system services. He has an interest in the theory and practice of delivering quality, reliable and maintainable information systems.
Kelly holds a diploma in Computer Science from Thompson Rivers University.
Joey Dabell is a Project Leader with BCIT’s multi-discipline Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) department. As a faculty researcher she functions as project manager on research, development and demonstration projects as part of BCIT’s Smart Microgrid Initiative. In this role she leads development and integration of renewable energy systems, writes research reports and contributes to research publications, coordinates microgrid related training and outreach activities, and facilitates collaborations between academic, industry and community partners.
Joey’s own research interests are at the intersection of microgrids and renewable energy technologies with policy, economic and social change relating to the process of transition to sustainable communities.
Joey is an active member of BCIT’s Sustainability Committee, and has participated in international conferences on renewable energy and sustainability.
Joey holds a M.E.T. from the University of British Columbia (UBC), and a B.Tech. (Computer Systems) from BCIT.
Eric Hawthorne is a research associate at the Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) within the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation of British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver, Canada. His work focusses on software and systems architecture and renewable energy microgrid energy management systems. He has extensive experience in smart grid applications, systems engineering, and software engineering. He is a co-author of “97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts”. Eric’s main research interests are smart grid control systems for renewable energy integration and demand-response.
Eric received his M.Sc. degree in computing and information science from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada in 1988.
Moein Manbachi, Ph.D., P.Eng., SMIEEE
Dr. Moein Manbachi is an active and dedicated RD&D project leader, professional engineer, and educator with a Ph.D. degree in Mechatronics Systems Engineering, and with broad industry and academic experience in the areas of Electric Power Systems, Energy Conservation, and Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. In more detail, his areas of expertise include Smart Microgrid Optimization, Renewable Energy Modeling & Integration, Advanced Substation Automation Systems, Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, Reliability Evaluation of Energy Systems, and Smart City Optimization & Planning. He has been running the CICL lab since 2017. Besides supervising more than 15 students’ projects, he has instructed six different electrical engineering courses at BCIT so far.
Dr. Manbachi has authored/co-authored more than 45 peer-reviewed technical papers in scientific journals and conferences. He is an active IEEE senior member and a member of Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (EGBC). His current research focuses on Virtualization Technologies for Experiential Learning and Digital Twin Design for Energy Hubs. He is also interested in Stochastic Optimization and Reinforcement Learning studies for solving real-world problems.
- Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Electric Power Systems; University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
- Ph.D., Mechatronics Systems Engineering; Simon Fraser University, Surrey, B.C., Canada
- BASc, Electrical Engineering; Shahid Beheshti University of Technology, Tehran, Iran
- Electricity Human Resources Canada Award for Innovation in Human Resources Practices, [As a SMART member] (2022)
- Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Post-Doctorate Fellowship (2016)
Google Scholar profile:
- Dr. Manbachi presented a webinar for the IEEE Smart Cities Society on “Virtualization in Smart City Critical Energy Infrastructure” on Nov. 15, 2022.
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- Dr. Manbachi presented a seminar for BCIT School of Energy on “Advanced Virtualization Technologies in Smart Cities”, in November 2022.
- Virtualization of the Experiential Learning Platforms and Its Pedagogical Models – (VELP)
- Microgrid real-time modeling & simulation for the development of Digital Twins and cloud integration
- Nugrid’s MV Lab operation for optical sensor development and testing
- Critical Energy Infrastructure Lab (CEIL): Phase 1
- Cybersecurity in Modern Digital Substations
- Development of real-time co-simulation platforms for critical energy infrastructures
- Interoperability and cybersecurity in IEC 61850 substations
Future Skills Centre
University and Community Partners
UBC – Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
SFU – Mechatronics Systems Engineering
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
The CICL lab provides training and mentorship to various types of students with electrical engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity background.
Our team values the contributions students make to most of our projects. Among our students, we host post-doctoral fellows, Ph.D. & MSc students, and also have undergraduate students doing their capstones and summer research projects. Depending on our project needs, we also hire students for co-op semesters and may offer them part-time employment.
So far, we have hosted students from both local and international institutes including:
Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Lab (CICL)
Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI)
At BCIT, Jay has developed web applications in Energy Management System (EMS) for smart microgrids. He has implemented user interfaces (UI)s aimed at learning the usages and benefits of smart microgrids for communities in North America. Furthermore, Jay has created several educative cybersecurity models addressing the detection and mitigation strategies for cyber threats on Industrial Control System (ICS) protocols used in Critical infrastructure systems.
As a Software Engineer, Jay has designed and implemented highly scalable web applications delivering business requirements of three Fortune Global 500, one Public Organization, and two different MNCs. His industrial experience includes collaborating with cross-functional engineering, QA teams, project managers, and business teams for secure application deliveries. His knowledge & skills in software engineering include Full Stack Web Developments, Web Designs, API Designs, Scripting, Problem-Solving, Deployments, and Requirements Gathering.
Jay completed his Master of Applied Science (MASc) in Electronic Systems Engineering from the University of Regina (UoR), Saskatchewan. As a Research Assistant at UoR, Jay published a thesis focusing on Cybersecurity in Critical Infrastructure Systems, one journal paper, and two conference papers on cybersecurity. His research thesis focused on Cyber Vulnerability Assessment And Defense Strategies On Siting Distributed Generation In A Smart Grid Environment. During his tenure as a Research Assistant, Jay gained knowledge & skills in Cybersecurity Research, Cyber Vulnerability Assessment, Threat Modeling, Security Measures Development, and Security Principles.
Minoo received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Azad University of Tehran, Iran, and Master of Engineering Leadership in Clean Energy Engineering (MEL C.E.E.N) from the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver. She also holds a Sustainable Energy Management Advanced Certificate (SEMAC) and is a certified RETScreen expert (CRE). Minoo is a member of Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC) and a senior member of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).
Minoo has worked in manufacturing, consulting engineering firms, and R&D for over 20 years. She is a Research Associate at the Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) within the Centre for Applied Research and Innovation of British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver, Canada.
Minoo functions as a team leader and participant; and designs, plans and conducts smart micro-grid, renewable energy resources integration, power automation and substation automation systems projects. She also collaborates with BCIT’s various schools on the development and delivery of smart grid and renewable energy related courses.
Minoo’s main research interests are smart grids, smart micro-grids, clean energy technologies, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energies, energy management and control & automation systems.
Janet So is a research analyst in the Smart Microgrid Applied Research Group (SMART) at BC Institute of Technology (BCIT). As part of the software team for the Smart Microgrid research initiative, she has developed applications in areas of energy management systems, meter and sensor data acquisition, and demand response algorithms. Her research interests are in smart grid software control systems and demand response. Janet is an experienced software developer, particularly in web applications. She has worked on a variety of small and large software projects ranging from an e-commerce fashion website to business intelligent software suites.
Janet holds a B.SoftEng. from University of Waterloo.
Alan has been programming since grade 10. His first computer had only 1K of programmable memory. Since then Alan has worked on many software projects, big and small. He started his career at Electronic Arts Canada developing games and audio drivers and then moved to Radical Entertainment. He then branched out to work on ACCPAC for Windows Corporate Series Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable 4.1 and 4.2 at ACCPAC Canada. After that, things got interesting doing online gaming before Alan finally landed his current position at BCIT.
In 10+ years at BCIT, Alan has worked on numerous projects dealing with Smart Microgrid technologies, including Energy Management Systems; gathering, storing, and displaying data from a myriad of sources and devices; creating websites; and learning new and innovative ways to bring the future into the present. Alan also created the SMART Microgrid Card Game as a tool to teach others what Smart Microgrids are all about.
Alan has a B.Sc. from Simon Fraser University (1988) and completed the Self-Employment Program at Douglas College (2004) when he founded Everywhere Cell Phone Games and created 18 mobile games and other applications. Alan brings in a wide variety of technical skills and experience garnered from 30+ years of industry work.