Zhejiang University: Academic cross-pollination ignites sparks

On March 14, WANG Chao, a master’s student at the College of Electrical Engineering, and LIN Xin, a PhD candidate at the School of Management, co-authored a research article entitled “Coordinating Thermal Energy Storage Capacity Planning and Multi-Channels Energy Dispatch in Wind-Concentrating Solar Power Energy System”, which will come out soon in the Journal of Cleaner Production.

This interdisciplinary “pollination” started from a summer social practice program.

In 2020, the College of Electrical Engineering took the lead in creating a strategic guidance platform for employment in state-owned enterprises and establishing an employment-oriented social practice base in China Southern Power Grid so as to let students’ dreams fly. In August, 2020, Wang and LIN participated in a 1-month internship there.

During the internship, WANG encountered difficulties in the modeling session. The defect with the model led to an unsatisfactory optimization result. WANG learned that LIN was adept at building mathematical models by making concrete problems abstract. Therefore, he turned to LIN for help during a lunch break.

LIN was intrigued by what WANG was doing. With more in-depth communication, LIN provided a string of new ideas and WANG offered background information about their engineering applications. This kind of interdisciplinary sharing ignited innovative sparks and connected the mathematical world with the physical world. The pathway to the whole research project became crystal clear.

The 1-month internship came to a close, but their collaboration didn’t stand still. “We are pretty busy and don’t have time for discussions during the daytime. Thus, we have to discuss questions online after 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. It is not uncommon that we pursue our discussion till small hours in the morning. However, we encourage each other and feel that there is always an opportunity to make new scientific achievements,” WANG said.

Their discussions eventually gave birth to a brilliant research article in a top journal. This article addresses the demands for cleaner production by applying the operation management theory. “I feel grateful to the College of Electrical Engineering for this internship. This sort of interdisciplinary cooperation is a source of inspiration,” said LIN.

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