Interview with Dr Zhongdong Wang, Chairwoman of UTRA
University Transformer Research Alliance
Discovery of the electromagnetic induction principle by Michael Faraday in 1831 laid the foundation for design and development of transformers. Work carried out at the Ganz factory in the early 1880s in developing the closed core transformers is considered as the pioneering work in development of the modern transformer. Since then, the design, development, operation and management of transformers have been revolutionised with many contributions from various parts of the world through R&D activities. Throughout most of the 20th century, these activities were mainly concentrated among industrial laboratories in Europe and USA. However, within last several decades many universities and research institutes from all around the world have taken over the research activities related to transformers. To date, there are more than 30 distinguished university research groups and many more individual researchers worldwide who contribute to the development of transformer related technologies.
Due to this increase in the number of researchers, an upsurge in repetition of work was observed, which may have been caused by a lack of communication and guidance. To improve the situation, five nationally leading transformer research groups from the UK, Germany, Australia and China established the University Transformer Research Alliance (UTRA) in 2019, aspiring to reach out to transformer researchers worldwide and to advance research at a faster pace together, with a focus on aligning research better to the low-carbon energy requirements of modern power systems. The founding members of UTRA are, The University of Manchester, The University of Queensland, Tsinghua University, University of Stuttgart and Xi’an Jiaotong University.
The vision of the Alliance is to enable university researchers to benefit from synergies in pursuit of advancement of knowledge in the areas of transformer related research through: research leadership, strategic research direction and guidance, engagement of stakeholders, and recognition of young talent. UTRA will enlist broad representation from global transformer research universities providing up-to-date information on their research capabilities which may include experience, expertise, and facilities for modelling, simulation and experiments. UTRA will encourage the research community to provide a coherent view on the latest knowledge and the need for, the challenges in, and the direction of research.