Supply chain
NTUST fosters team for development of power electronics industry in Taiwan
Fisher Yu, DIGITIMES, Taipei

Playing a vital role in global power electronics technology development, Taiwan hosts six of the world's top 10 power supply manufacturers. The impressive achievement is attributable to active devotion on the part of leading enterprises. More than that, the Center for Power Electronic Technologies, led by Huang-Jen Chiu, professor, Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST), has always been a strong technological support for the Taiwan industry. Also serving as the dean of the university's Office of Industry-academia Collaboration, Chiu enrolled his team in the Taiwan Tech Global Research & Industry Alliance (Taiwan Tech GLORIA) project in hopes of fostering talented R&D engineers much needed by the industry through joint development efforts with outstanding domestic and international firms.

The Center for Power Electronic Technologies is among the first few research centers NTUST founded. The team comprising about 200 graduate students not only outperforms the rest of the university's research groups in other fields in terms of team size and technological strength but is also on a par with world-leading academic groups in terms of research scale and abilities. According to Chiu, power electronics technologies have wide-ranging uses, encompassing national infrastructure and personal electronics. Taiwan has built up competitive advantages in this field with six of the world's top ten power supply manufacturers based in the country. Among them, the world's No. 1 power supply company Delta Electronics produces 45% of the power solutions for laptops around the globe with NTUST making critical contributions. Delta Electronics plans to invest NT$30 million (US$1 million) over a three-year period beginning in 2020 to establish a joint research center with NTUST to help enhance the Taiwan industry's competitiveness.

NTUST's Center for Power Electronic Technologies continues to strengthen its ability to put research achievements to practical use through close industry-academia collaborations. Chiu noted that NTUST makes sure there is no gap between academic education and industry requirements and NTUST graduates mostly work in a field related to their major. More than 600 graduates have completed their advanced degrees with the Power Electronics Lab of the center and they make up a strong workforce leading industry development and research. Aside from incubating talent to meet industry needs, NTUST can also provide global resources in line with partner firms' worldwide strategies to enable win-win situations. For example, many Taiwan-based power supply companies have recruited skilled professionals at their offices abroad through help from NTUST' affiliated schools to help them realize their localization goals.

Further to talent incubation and academia-industry collaboration, NTUST's Center for Power Electronic Technologies also catches industry attention with its ability to develop cutting-edge technologies. Chiu highlighted that the lab stays ahead of the industry in research while keeping industry needs in mind. It is working on high power wireless charging that has become the center of industry attention. The industry has been developing wireless charging for years but commercialized wireless charging products are generally low power solutions currently used in consumer electronics. High power charging is challenging and leading research institutions are still working on it. NTUST's high power wireless charging technology is aimed at providing a convenient, safe and efficient solution targeting electric bikes, motorcycles and cars as well as automatic guided vehicles (AGV). Chiu is particularly optimistic toward the application of AGV. As manufacturers relocate production bases in response to the US-China trade war, new factories are likely to make use of automation systems. With AGV playing an important role in smart manufacturing and AGV technologies continuing to advance in recent years, wireless charging will be among the new features in AGVs.

Having long supported industry development, NTUST's Center for Power Electronic Technologies already engages in close collaborations with firms in Taiwan. Its participation in the Taiwan Tech GLORIA project in 2018 will help introduce partnership opportunities with international industry and academic communities. According to Chiu, NTUST has been devoted to promoting joint industry-academia development and talent incubation but has delegated the work to individual research teams. After the participation in the Taiwan Tech GLORIA project, the alliance will take over the work to match research teams with suitable third-party firms and help them gain exposure at exhibitions and events. Going forward, NTUST will continue to operate on the collaboration model wherein each party is dedicated to tasks it specializes in. This will benefit both the industry and the academia as NTUST endeavors to educate first-rate talent and develop cutting-edge technology.

Huang-Jen Chiu, professor, Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, NTUST

Huang-Jen Chiu, professor, Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, NTUST
Photo: Huang-Jen Chiu

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