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Chairholder Profile

Nafia Al-Mutawaly

Nafia Al-Mutawaly

Mohawk College

Chair Title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Advanced Distribution System

Chair Program

Industrial Research Chairs Program


Chairholder since 2013


The Chair's research will focus on two major areas: power system protection/control and power quality. Current power system protection and control equipment is of the electromechanical type, and offer limited functionality beyond basic protection. Modern power systems using renewable energy and computer-based control require more advanced functions, such as the ability to communicate with one another and the grid control centre network. A multitude of intelligent electronic devices from various vendors is available, and the Chair's research will focus on demonstrating the interoperability and reliability of these devices to satisfy the needs of utilities.

Power quality issues introduced by modern technologies and energy sources pose increasing challenges to utilities. Traditionally, harmonics have not been a major issue, as most devices were linear in nature. However, modern devices (such as power supplies, variable frequency drive controllers and power inverters) are non-linear in nature, and contribute significant harmonic content to the distribution system. Since harmonic distortion on the distribution network is a relatively new concern, little data exists on the impact that non-linear loads will have on utility equipment. The Chair will investigate the impacts of harmonics on power grids, provide recommendations to utilities for preventative maintenance and propose solutions to improve overall grid performance. Working closely with project partners allows the Chair to draw from a broad spectrum of both human and physical capital. Engineering support from utilities will ensure that the Chair's research is directly related to a need of the utility, and allows for the verification of laboratory test results in a real-world setting (the utility's distribution system). The culmination of efforts from the two major research areas will allow utilities to get a better understanding of the issues facing distribution systems in modern environments. With this information, asset management techniques and equipment reliability can be improved to reduce the number of unplanned outages or interruptions for utility consumers.

Dr. Al-Mutawaly received his Bachelor degree in electrical engineering in 1982, and has worked as a field engineer in various companies for 15 years. He received his Master's and PhD from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at McMaster University in 1998 and 2003 respectively. In 1998, he joined Mohawk College as a professor and in 2007 he was assigned the chair position in Energy Engineering Technologies at McMaster University. Dr. Al-Mutawaly is an author and co-author of over 20 technical papers.


  • Hydro One
  • Horizon Utilities

Contact Information

Mohawk College
135 Fennell Avenue West
Hamilton, Ontario
L9C 1E9

Tel.: 905-575-1212, ext. 3121
Fax: 905-575-2179

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