Faculty Awards

Taha receives President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Research Achievement

June 28, 2021
Academic Strategic Communications
Taha receives President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Research Achievement

Profile photo of Ahmad Taha

Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ahmad Taha, has received the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Research Achievement. Through his research efforts and high level of service both for UTSA and the larger engineering community, Taha is at the forefront of developing the future of complex infrastructure and the next generation of engineers. 

"I am honored to receive the Research Achievement Award recognizing my dedication to solving contemporary research problems with profound societal relevance," says Taha. "The research field of control theory is key in our understanding of the world as we know it today, but more so as we wish the world to be known for decades to come."

With urban city populations expected to rise exponentially in the coming years, Taha’s research focuses on building more efficient and environmentally conscious urban infrastructures. Taha’s research carries meaningful ramifications for the future of urban planning, as it addresses fundamental issues in energy, water and transportation systems. 

His research can be divided into three key dimensions. The first, theory for urban systems and smart city applications, involves managing water quality in drinking water networks, reducing traffic on highways, and combating climate change through the electrification of public transport. 

The second dimension, urban systems theory, involves creating numerical algorithms to classify nonlinearities in large-scale urban models and enhancing the security of the global positioning system (GPS) from cyberattacks. The last dimension, sustainable operation and control of energy systems, involves the smart integration of buildings to maintain stable electric-grid operations while reducing energy consumption and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. 

Recognizing the significance of his research, Taha has received federal funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). His six most recent grants from the NSF, four of which he was the principal investigator, provided just under two million to support his research at UTSA. 

In his six years as an assistant professor at UTSA, Taha has published 28 journal articles, with six more under review, 36 conference papers, he has been invited to give 19 scholarly presentations, and he has received three patents. In addition, he has mentored 14 graduate students and four undergraduate students.

Taha is an active faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, leading the department’s website redesign efforts and serving on several faculty search committees, the Graduate Student Recruitment Committee, the ECE Awards Committee, and the Science and Engineering New Building Design Committee.

Taha is also active in his service to the broader engineering community. He is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS). 

For the IEEE CSS, Taha serves as the electronics publications chair and is sole editor of the society’s digital newsletter. He is also the social media coordinator and member of the Member Activity Board (MAB). In addition, Taha is an editor of “IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid” and guest editor of “IEEE Access,” two multidisciplinary journals produced by the IEEE. 

With funding from the IEEE CSS, Taha spearheaded a three-day outreach camp for 8th grade girls from an underserved school in the San Antonio community. In alignment with UTSA’s mission to be a center for inclusive excellence, the camp introduced girls to control systems and robotics, encouraging them to consider a career in engineering and the sciences. 

Taha received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University in 2015 before joining UTSA as an assistant professor. 

“Dr. Taha has been very productive and effective at attracting federal funding by focusing on   research problems of societal relevance,” says Chunjiang Qian, professor and chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I have no doubt that Dr. Taha will continue to create and innovate and be among the top engineers in his field.”

The President’s Distinguished Award for Research Achievement for tenure-track faculty recognizes individuals who have conducted high-quality, high-impact research that shows distinct promise for national and international recognition and substantial contribution to the faculty member’s field.