Meet Dr. Michael Baldea

Avid cyclist and world traveler Dr. Michael Baldea brings valuable industrial experience to his new role as assistant professor with the Department of Chemical Engineering this fall.

“I’m excited about starting my research and teaching at UT Austin. Being top-ranked in the U.S., the Cockrell School and our department offer tremendous opportunities and the students are great,” said Baldea.

“I have a very international background – I studied in my native Romania, the UK, in France and in the U.S. I’ve also worked on three different continents. I am excited about living in Austin because of the diverse community and thriving cultural scene. The city is easy to navigate and I really like being able to ride my bike to school. The warm and sunny weather is nice for somebody coming from ‘up north’.”

Baldea formerly led research as a development specialist at Praxair Technology Center in Tonawanda, New York. While there he initiated and led a research program focused on the dynamic modeling, optimization and control of large-scale air separation plants. Among his achievements, he co-developed a novel optimization algorithm that is now commercially distributed as part of gPROMS, a platform for high-fidelity predictive modeling for the process industries.

“Industry experience helps me provide students with a broader perspective, both in teaching and in advising,” he said.  “I incorporate my knowledge about how chemicals plants are designed, engineered, built and operated in my lectures. When students explore career options, I give them insight into what a position in industry entails and what employers look for when they are hiring.”

Baldea is recruiting graduate students to help develop theory, models and algorithms for the solution of both practically important and fundamental problems in energy systems engineering. In particular, his research will focus on novel modeling approaches for robust and fast simulation and optimization of energy generation and storage units; on proactive energy management strategies for buildings and on developing efficient model-based fault detection and isolation schemes for complex systems.

“This is an exciting research area.  It draws on theory developed in fields such as control, modeling and optimization and applies it to solve practical problems. For example, the economic and environmental benefits of optimizing energy use in buildings will be very significant,” he said.  “My research also takes the converse perspective by turning practical problems into the inspiration and test bed for new theoretical tools and solution methods. Systems engineering is really the vehicle that connects theory and applications.”

Baldea received a diploma in chemical engineering and a master of science degree in interface process engineering from “Babes-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. His book “Dynamics and Control of Integrated Process Systems” (with co-author Professor Prodromos Daoutidis of the University of Minnesota) is due to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. He is teaching CHE 360 Process Control this semester. Visit Dr. Baldea’s profile to learn more.

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