AFCEA Bethesda Smart Tech Symposium Interview Series: Sauleh Siddiqui, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Johns Hopkins University
On October 23, AFCEA Bethesda hosted an innovative educational symposium for government and industry participants who are or want to be on the cutting edge of smart technology and sustainability. The goals of the event were to make the business case for sustainability, show “big data” applications for energy management, highlight accomplishments with smart building technologies, illustrate saving from effective Federal fleet management, data center energy efficiencies and sustainability leading practices, articulate the connection between data centers and sustainability, and explain the impact of recent regulations and policy related to sustainability for IT procurement.
The AFCEA Smart Tech Symposium Social Media Team put together a mini series of interviews with Academic Experts on related subject matter, to get them to provide insight into their research and how they play a part in building the business case for sustainability on a daily basis through their work.
Our fourth interview is with Sauleh Siddiqui, an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, affiliated with the Systems Institute. His research is on formulating and solving optimization and game theory models applicable to large-scale systems. He received an A.B. in Mathematics and Public Policy from Franklin & Marshall College and a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics & Statistics, and Scientific Computation from the University of Maryland.
Sauleh, can you give us a brief description of your research and your interests in energy economics and energy policy?
My research uses optimization, game theory, and probabilistic techniques to study large-scale systems. Such systems arise when modeling problems in energy and environmental markets, transportation, and public health. I also model engineering design and develop novel algorithms along with supporting mathematical theory. My research in energy is primarily focused on combining environmental markets with other energy markets such as electricity and natural gas. I am also interested in how market power can shape energy economics, and how energy policy (similar to market power) can lead to outcomes that are better in the long run.
Tell us about how your research fits into the broader framework of building a business case for sustainability.
My research is on incorporating multiple decisions and finding the best way to model interacting energy markets. With new sources of energy emerging in today’s world, as well as new initiatives to develop tax policies and cap-and-trade mechanisms, it is immensely important to study the current sustainability environment in the United States through a more comprehensive lens.
What suggestions do you have to level the cost competitiveness of renewables in comparison to fossil fuels?
There needs to be far more technological developments to make renewables cost competitive. Also, the development of other technology (such as more efficient batteries and generators) needs to complement the improvement of renewable energy as well. There are also policy initiatives that can be taken, such as providing subsidies and tax breaks, though I think that often creates fake short-term incentives which will not be sustainable in the long run.
How will widespread implementation of smart grid technologies influence businesses and consumer choices surrounding energy and resource management?
I think it will provide new opportunities for inventions that can lead to large amounts of energy savings. I also think that implementing smart “microgrids” will lead to a more defining change within individual communities, and result in people being more involved in energy management. Smart grids technologies have a better chance of being successful and popular if implemented from a grassroots level.
A very special thank you to Sauleh Siddiqui for giving us his time and insight into how his research helps consumers and businesses understand how they can play a part in solving the energy equation.