Fulbright Specialist to Explore the Application of Sensor and Wireless Networking in Smart Grids and Smart Cities

Driss Benhaddou Will Spend the Next Four Years Expanding Global Research

The Fulbright Specialist program pairs highly qualified U.S. academics and professionals with host institutions abroad. Dr. Driss Benhaddou, associate professor, has been awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant to share his wireless and sensor networks expertise and their application to “living buildings.”

Experienced in working internationally, Benhaddou is well acquainted with the nuances of different cultures. He earned a B.S. degree from Morocco and two Ph.Ds. from France and the United States. Through the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique et Technique/Rabat, he was invited in 2011 to deliver a wireless sensor network applications seminar about the smart grid at the Université Abdelmalek Essaadi.  He was a Fulbright Scholar to Morocco during the 2012-2013 academic year, initiating research on the application of wireless sensor networks in smart buildings within the scope of smart grid.

Dr. Benhaddou organized an International National Science Foundation 2016 workshop for the application of sensors and wireless networks on smart cities in Rabat, Morocco. In addition, he is collaborating with a team in Morocco through several grant-funded projects.

At the University of Houston, he has established research initiatives with groups and industrial partners, spearheading the development of a Wireless and Optical Networking Laboratory that is funded by several federal and state grants. His appointment is effective in 2017 through 2021.

We sat down with him to find out more about his research and goals as a Fulbright Specialist.

Innovations:  What expertise will you share as a Fulbright Specialist?

Benhaddou:  My expertise includes network-centric smart system development, wireless and optical networking, switching system design, routing protocols, and network performance analysis. I have a solid background in software development and developed applications related to healthcare and energy. Early in my career at Sprint Incorporated and Lambda Optical Systems Incorporated, I implemented large scale networking testbeds for equipment testing and for research and development. Currently, I am investigating the application of wireless and sensor networks for living buildings.

Innovations: Why did you become interested in serving as a Fulbright Specialist?

Benhaddou: This experience will enable me to gain a global perspective of my research I am interested in solving a global challenge, which is the application of sensing and wireless networking in smart grids and smart cities. I would like to make a difference around the world and providing professional assistance in the application of wireless sensor networks and the integration of solar energy in smart buildings as a building block for smart cities. I am developing the concept of a living building at the University of Houston. This concept implies a minimal level of reengineering at a relatively low installation cost. With the use of Internet of Things (IoT), we can move toward the concept of smart cities. However, the mere accumulation of smart buildings does not create a smart city. Developing smart cities is a global challenge, and requires global perspectives.

Innovations:  How will your participation benefit a host institution abroad?

Benhaddou: The host institution can play a leading role in developing smart cities in its country

and benefit from my collaboration in many ways. Faculty and students will receive professional development in the emerging field of wireless sensor network applications in a smart city, which involves one of the grand challenges indicated by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Faculty and students will gain experience using novel algorithms that will enable efficient management of energy consumption while taking into consideration solar energy generation.

Innovations: How will your participation benefit the University of Houston?

Benhaddou:  International collaborations create opportunities to recruit diverse faculty and students.  The efforts support the University’s vision to become a global destination for research and development. This experience is bringing an international perspective to the smart city challenges.

Innovations: What initiatives are you envisioning at your host institutions?

Benhaddou:  In addition to working with faculty to develop the blue print of smart city projects in their institution, I would like to offer seminars and presentations that assist faculty and students in developing applications for wireless sensor networks in smart cities, which are tailored to their needs and environment.