Power professor: 100 patents… and counting

Posted on May 25, 2020

Patents do not just attribute intellectual property, they also recognize contributions towards scientific discovery and innovation. This is particularly true for Dr. Praveen Jain, an Electrical and Computer Engineering professor and researcher, with over 100 patents to his name. Testament to his prolific contributions to the advancement of power solutions for an evolving world, Dr. Jain’s patents span the whole range of the power electronics field.

Originally from a small town in India, Dr. Jain recalls going to a school with only one teacher. “I can remember much of my primary learning occurring sitting under a tree,” he says. “Many in my extended family were engineers, which later inspired me to study engineering.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree, Dr. Jain worked for two companies in India. One of his uncles, who had been mentoring him, suggested that he pursue higher education abroad, and in 1981 he was accepted into the University of Toronto as a graduate student. He completed his study focused on high-frequency power conversion, a topic that carved his future path.

Over the years, Dr. Jain explored power solutions in a number of different careers, beginning with Canadian Astronautics, where he worked on power systems for space station, including the Canadarm2. This was followed by his employment at Nortel where he created many novel power solutions for telecommunications. “I further developed my work on space power and applied that technology in telecom,” he says.

Dr. Jain’s work at Queen’s has spanned the field of power electronics, and included collaborations with peers and industry, as well as mentoring the next generation. He has founded two companies, CHiL Semiconductor in digital power control chips, and Sparq Systems in solar microinverters.

His research work has been applied in more than 20 major engineering projects, demonstrating the breadth of his contributions’ significance. And his contributions continue. Current research focuses on power electronics for smart micro-grids, renewable energy systems, electric vehicles and information systems.

As the Director of the Centre for Energy and Power Electronics (ePower), Dr. Jain is collaborating with others to develop innovative solutions, and believes that distributed renewable power represents the future of energy systems. “By the end of the century, I can see there being no electric grid, just distributed power,” he says. “We have important work to do to advance products and practices that will make better use of renewables and distributed systems that are more efficient, and better for our planet.”