Thomas J. Riordan and Herbert C. Towle Chair & Pegasus Professor

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Central Florida

Founding Director of RISES, A University Research Center

Resilient, Intelligent and Sustainable Energy Systems (RISES)
University of Central Florida

Founding Director of FEEDER Center

Foundations for Engineering Education for Distributed Energy Resources (FEEDER)


Dr. Zhihua Qu is a Pegasus Professor at the University of Central Florida. He is a leader in the field of dynamic systems, nonlinear controls, electric power system, and autonomous systems, who has excelled in teaching, research and service. He conducts interdisciplinary research in broad fields of energy and power, autonomous vehicles, and networked systems. In energy systems, his research interests include power system stability, wide-area controls and their modular data-driven designs, self-organizing microgrids, distributed energy resources, distributed optimization, and cooperative control. For his technical contributions, he was elected a Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of AAAS.

Dr. Qu has been a faculty at the University of Central Florida since 1990 and currently as the Thomas J. Riordan and Herbert C. Towle Chair and Professor of ECE. He served as the assistant chair of the ECE department (1995-1997) and Director/Chair of Electrical Engineering (1999-2004). From 2010 to 2021, he served as the Chair of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. During his tenure as ECE Chair, ECE BSc programs are expanded to include 5 tracks and their degree production has increased by 73%, quality enhancement measures including class size limits are instituted and maintained, tenured/tenure-track faculty has increased 52% (with 7 NSF CAREER awardees), and the USNWR rankings have been significantly improved for both EE and CpE programs. From 2010 to 2020, ECE research expenditure has been more than quadrupled to $10M, research funding more than septupled to $18M, and two federally-funded centers are established.

Dr. Qu is the founder and director of the RISES (Resilient, Intelligent and Sustainable Energy Systems) as a university cluster (since 2015), and RISES is elevated in 2021 as a university research center whose federal research portfolio is over $16 million dollars. Dr. Qu is the PI and Director of FEEDER Center which, originally funded (2013-2019) by US Department of Energy (DOE) and afterwards by industrial/utility partners, consists of 12 universities, 18 utility companies, 10 industry companies and 2 national labs. This intercollegiate and partnership team provides a full spectrum of collaborative research, development and educational activities, including its innovative multi-institutional course sharing, to better train the current and future workforce and to accelerate the deployment of distributed power systems technologies. Dr. Qu has been leading a DOE SETO team to design autonomous inverter controls for grid forming and resilient/secure grid operations. He has also led a DOE ENERGISE research team to design and implement highly scalable technologies for distribution systems to operate reliably and securely with 100% renewable penetration. A modular and plug-and-play grid platform has been developed for real-time operation and control of large scale (one-million-node) distribution networks, and self-organizing distribution operation and distributed control functions have been tested to manage distributed energy resources in a cost-effective, reliable, scalable and secure manner. As the Co-Director of Electric Vehicle Transportation Center (a tier-1 university transportation center funded by U.S. Department of Transportation), he led the effort of developing smart interfaces between electrical vehicles and electrical grid as well as autonomous vehicle technologies.

Dr. Qu received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. Fundamental advances of his recent work encompass plug-and-play operation of networked systems, distributed optimization, cooperative control and game-theoretical algorithms, and resilient networked controls against attack. In addition to smart grid, he has successfully pursued applications in autonomous vehicles, medical robotics, and missile guidance. He is also known for his earlier work on robust control of nonlinear uncertain systems. In his areas of expertise, Dr. Qu has published 184 archival journal articles and 305 conference papers. He is a co-editor of and contributing author to Smart Grid Control: An Overview and Research Opportunities by Springer (2018), and is one of the contributors to IEEE Vision for Smart Grid Controls: 2030 and Beyond by IEEE Standards Association (2013). He is the author of four books, including Cooperative Control of Dynamical Systems by Springer (2009) and Robust Control of Nonlinear Uncertain Systems by Wiley (1998).

Dr. Qu is an inaugural member, Standing Council, Vision for Engineering Leadership Multi-sector Alliance, the NSF Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA). He served in several organizations at the national level: the Committee of Visitors (COV), a review panel of NSF ECCS Division; IEEE Smart Grid Operational and Steering Committees; University Resources Committee, IEEE Educational Activities; IEEE CSS Smart Grid TC Chair; Conference Chair of IEEE CSS TCAC; Secretary and Board of Directors, Southeastern Center for Electrical Engineering Education (SCEEE); Secretary, Vice President, President of Southeast ECE Department Head Association (SECEDHA); Board of Directors of ECE Department Head Association (ECEDHA); Chair of ECEDHA award committee; Vice President, President and Past President of ECEDHA; Board of Trustees and Vice Chair of ECE Foundation; Board of Governors, IEEE CSS; and an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer. He is/was an Associate Editor for several journals, including AutomaticaIEEE ACCESS, and IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control.