Interview with PACWorld Guru Dr. He Jiali

Interview with PACWorld guru Dr. He Jiali from China

PAC World:  When and where were you born?
H.J.: I was born in June 1925, Xian, China.

PAC World:  Where did you grow up and where did you go to school?
H.J.: I grew up in Shaanxi province, China. I went to middle school in Shaanxi and joined Peiyang University in Tianjin, China.

PAC World:  Did you have any specific interests while in school? 
H.J.:  During my spare time, I used to buy some components and do some scientific experiments at home. After I assembled a radio receiver using a crystal detector and did electrolyzed salt experiments, I appreciated the beauty of electricity and decided to be an electrical engineer.

PAC World:  Can you think of someone or something in your childhood that influenced your decision to become an engineer?
H.j.:  I was born in a scholarly family in Xi'an, Shaanxi. My father believed that the essence of Chinese traditional ethics and morality should be the basis of a person, and the science and technology of the western countries are the prerequisites to empower the nation.
Therefore, I set up the goal of learning science and serving the motherland in my early age.
My father also encouraged me to learn from Dr. Li Yizhi, a Shaanxi hydraulician who studied abroad. Li Yizhi designed four irrigation systems to benefit millions of people in Shaanxi. He also cooperated with President Li Shutian to establish the first hydraulic test Institute at Peiyang University in Tianjin, which is the pioneer of Chinese water conservancy project. My father's democratic patriotism and scholastic spirit had a profound influence on me, and Dr. Li Yizhi's knowledge and dedication also had a huge impact on my growth, as he was my idol.

PAC World:  Where did you go to university and why did you choose that particular one?
H.J.:   Peiyang University, established in 1895, is the first model university in China. The university pursued a long march to fulfill China’s need for development in the new era which perfectly fit my own target. So, I gave up the recommendation to Wuhan University, took part in the college entrance examination and got the admission to Peiyang University in the same year.

PAC World:  Why did you study electrical engineering?
H.J.:  In my childhood I read books about Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday etc.  I felt electricity is a mystery, very interesting and attractive, so I decided to study electrical engineering in the future.

PAC World:  Why did you select to be a teaching assistant after graduation?
H.J.:  In 1950, the government expanded the Harbin Institute of Technology and invited Soviet professors to train engineers for industrial sectors, as well as science and engineering teachers in domestic universities. I was selected from Peiyang University to study the principles of relay protection. At the same time, as an assistant of the Soviet Professor, I also used Russian to assist the Chinese and Russian undergraduates, during which I experienced the responsibility and pleasure of being a teacher.

PAC World: Why did you decide to continue your education in Russia?
H.J.:  In 1953, I returned to Tianjin University and worked as a lecturer for 5 years. In 1958, I was recommended to study abroad and went to the Graduate School of Moscow Power Engineering Institute and studied for a PhD until 1962.

PAC World:  Why did you select the Power Engineering Institute in Moscow?
H.J.:  In this institute in Moscow, I could follow the chief professor of the relay protection of the power system of the Soviet Union, and also a famous international power system relay protection expert, Professor A. M. Fedoseyev.
I could learn the carrier frequency protection of transmission lines from him. He was then the director of the relay protection department of the Power Engineering Institute and also the director of the relay protection department of the Thermal Power Design Institute of the Soviet Union.

PAC World:  What was the impact of your study in Russia on your future career?
H.J.:  In the first few years after returning to China, I translated some books and materials of the protection of the Soviet Union, which were helpful to the improvement of the regulations of relay protection in China. At the same time, I applied the principles and methods of phase differential protection to many projects in China.

PAC World:  How did you develop an interest in electric power systems protection?
H.J.:  Relay protection is known as the protector of power grid, and it is an important guarantee for the safe and reliable operation of power systems. Before PRC was established, there was no power system relay protection specialists in Chinese universities, which were in urgent need. In 1954 I first established the discipline “relay protection“and set up a relay protection laboratory in Tianjin University and gave lessons every weekend to the engineers of the Beijing Electric Power Design Institute.

PAC World:  What did you do after your return from Russia to China?
H.J.: I applied the principle of phase differential carrier protection for transmission lines that I studied during my PhD research. I assisted the Nanjing Power Research Institute to apply this   protection to the first 330 kV line in China, and put forward four new measures to improve the performance of the long line phase differential protection: the remote start of the carrier frequency transmitter, the three-phase negative sequence start of the protection device, the two-half wave phase comparison and frequency modulation.

PAC World:  What do you think about the importance of your participation in national and international organizations such as CSEE and IEEE?
H.J.:  I worked as a standing member of the CSEE Council and was accepted as Senior Member of IEEE, I attended several conferences sponsored by IEEE PES and CSEE and learned much from them. I published several papers with my colleagues and students on Power Delivery.
I attended the committee meetings for revising the regulations and standards for static relay protection in CSEE. I learned much about IEEE standards for protective relays and introduced them in my text book.

PAC World:  You spent more than sixty years teaching and training students and engineers. Do you see any difference in the students in 1950 and today?
H.J.:  I can say that there is no difference in the learning spirit and learning attitude. All have firm ideals and goals. They are dedicated to learn science and technology, to serve the construction of their motherland, and make their own contributions to the great rejuvenation of China. But there are some differences.
Before the 1950s, undergraduate study in China was four years, covering only the basic courses. After the founding of the PRC, in the 1950s, due to the need for a large number of professionals in the national economic recovery and construction, the five-year undergraduate professional education system was adopted.
Now students' learning objectives, learning attitudes, and learning strength are the same as before. There are fewer courses and less practical experience. But students' computer technology, communication technology, and network technology skills are very strong.
The protection, control, dispatching, and communication equipment of the power system have been digitized, computerized, and networked. So, they can adapt to work soon after graduation. After a short internship, you can undertake specific technical work. Therefore, it can be said that with the improvement of the level of science and technology and the improvement of the level of teachers, the overall level of graduates is now improved.

PAC World:  You have been involved in research on a wide range of power system protection related topics – line differential and directional comparison protection, distributed bus protection, Extra High Voltage protection. How do you explain your interest in so many topics and do you have a favorite?
H.J.: Each of above protection principles has its own particular property and should be used according to the specific case of the transmission line and power system. I have interest in all of them.

PAC World:  You established the annual conference on Electric Power System and its Automation. What do you think is the role of these conferences in China and why is it important for practicing engineers to participate in conferences?
H.J.: It helps to understand the frontiers of the field and share the research results. Participating in academic conferences, one can meet the latest research results. From the topic choosing, making PPT, reporting and peer reviewing after the meeting, it is a summary of one’s work.
One can absorb peer suggestions and make clear what to do and how to do in the next step. It is also significant for inspiring scientific research ideas and reassessing ourselves. When listening to reports, various thoughts collide, which open up scientific research ideas and inspire innovation.
Many scientific research ideas will come up, and then enrich and develop our current research and optimize our own academic system.

PAC World:  You have developed protection principles and algorithms implemented in actual devices manufactured by Chinese companies. What do you think are the benefits of academics working with manufacturers?
H.J.:  The combination of manufacturing, teaching and researching forms an innovative driving center, and grasps core technology which quickly applies new technology to production practice, and vice versa improving new theory according to practical experience

PAC World:  You proposed in China the idea of integration of protection, control, measurements, signals and data communications. What was the reason behind it and what do you think about the trend towards centralized substation protection and control?
H.J.:  The integrated automation system not only simplifies the structure of the system, but also greatly expands the function of the system.
It can not only realize the measurement, control and protection, but also realize the intelligent functions such as data statistics, accident analysis, fault judgment, and even simulation training.
In particular, the powerful fault diagnosis function not only brings great convenience to the operation and maintenance, but also shortens the time of failure, reduces the use of intermediate relay, time relay and control cable, and can save a lot of operation and maintenance costs for the users.
The main trend maybe the combination with artificial intelligence, which can study the fault feature data deeply, predict the working condition of the next time according to the running data, realize the intellectualization of the substation management, and further provide the accuracy and security of the monitoring and measurement of the protection and control.

PAC World:  You have been actively involved in academic publishing of papers and textbooks. How do you think this is changing now with the Internet?
H.J.:  The advantages of the Internet are convenient and fast, massive information and diversification, but the disadvantages are too fragmented, distracting students' attention and making it difficult to filter.
The future teaching material will be a variety of fusion materials, as long as it can make people acquire knowledge, learn skills, be good textbooks, and this "textbook" may not be a paper book or electronic book in our traditional consciousness, it may be any form, all forms that can be used in teaching and learning can be a textbook.

PAC World:  What do you think is the impact of IEC 61850 on the future of protection and control?
H.J.:  Smart grid calls for a high degree of integration and sharing of information. A unified platform model is adopted to achieve interoperability of devices and systems in the power grid. The IEC 61850 standard has become one of the main standards of smart grid in the future.
The monitoring and integration of new energy power generation, the support for substation informatization and intellectualization, the expansion of the power distribution field, and the construction of seamless communication system for electric power enterprises.

PAC World:  What is the greatest challenge you faced during your professional career?
H.J.:  Since relay protection plays a decisive role in the reliable operation of the power system, it is the nervous system of the power system, and its reliability is extremely high.
Many large-scale blackouts in the world have not been caused by relay protection, but the expansion of accidents is the responsibility of relay protection. Therefore, we must be extremely cautious in research and use, and it must undergo many laboratory simulation tests, dynamic simulation tests, and field trial runs. It can be applied only when it has passed all these tests.
Therefore, the research cycle is very long. In actual use, it is necessary to break through all kinds of resistance and prejudice. Therefore, it takes a lot of effort to promote a new protection principle. Fortunately, there are several new principles that I have studied, and several of them are carried out when the development of the power system is most needed. Did not encounter great resistance.
I feel that if we work hard, we can guarantee that they possess the security and dependability, selectivity, sensitivity, and fast operation in theory and experiment. So, they can   perfectly fulfill all the requirements to relay protection.

PAC World:  You have received many awards. Which one do you consider the most important to you?
H.J.:  The most important Award is 2010 IEEE PES and CSEE YuHsiu Ku Electrical Engineering Award. Prof. YuHsiu Ku is a famous expert on Electrical Engineering, also an educator, a poet and a musician. It’s my great honor to be the First winner of the Award since it was established in 2010. This award also acknowledges the importance of my achievements. This gives me greatest pleasure.

PAC World: How do you see the future of our industry?
H.J.: I believe that with the progress of Artificial Intelligence, a new industrial revolution will take place. But it should not be overdone. You can't let robots learn to kill. No robot should be used in war. The power nations in the world should set up a treaty, just like Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to prevent robots from destroying humans.

PAC World:  You are still actively involved with the electric power industry. What keeps you going?
H.J.:  With the rapid development of computer technology and communication technology, the principle and technology of relay protection have been injected with new vitality, but the professional knowledge and skills of the field technicians are aging fast.
It is necessary to update and improve the technology with the development of science and technology to ensure the operation of the power system. Life has its limits, and knowledge is boundless. This is why I want to keep the pace with new the trend.

PAC World:  How do you balance your active professional life with your family life?
H.J.:  The contradiction between work and family life is unavoidable for people involved in scientific research. Before I was 85 years old, I worked in the office for ten hours every day. I went there in the morning, afternoon and evening. Although there was a lot of contradiction, it could be solved by communication and patience. I always say that it is much better than the soldiers who guard on the border throughout the year.

PAC World:  What do you like to do when you are not working?
H.J.: When I retired in 1984, I often toured to different countries and different cities.
Since 85 years old I haven’t gone out. At home I enjoy the Beijing opera, Chinese poetry, symphony (the best is the Blue Danube with Karajan. I also like ballet - Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, and classic movies. These works of art are all good for your health.
Especially, I am very happy to modify my textbook to adapt to the developing power grid with my several students.

PAC World:  You have traveled to different places of the world. Do you have a favorite place?
H.J.: I like Hangzhou, Nanjing, Hefei, Kunming, Urumqi, etc. in China. I also like the Grand Canyon, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco in the USA.

PAC World:  What is your favorite food?
H.J.: I prefer Pita Bread Soaked in Lamb Soup and Dumplings with sour soup from my hometown, Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China.

PAC World:  Do you have a motto?
H.J.: Life is limited while learning is unlimited.

PAC World:  Is there anything you would like to say to the young PAC engineers around the world?
H.J.: PAC’s Engineers are the Boy Scouts of the System Integration world. They collaborate, do not compete. They absolutely look out for the well-being of any of our clients by placing a strong emphasis on integrity and training while providing sound engineering principles. Bringing them up is a no-brainer and we know we will be in great hands.

BeijingSifang June 2016