Professor Rick Blum, who holds the Robert W. Wieseman Research Professorship in Electrical Engineering, has been named as a 2018 Distinguished Lecturer of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Signal Processing Society. This prestigious recognition from IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization, helps to connect well-known educators and authors in the field to IEEE chapters around the country to support networking and the sharing of new knowledge.

Blum began his teaching career as an assistant professor in 1991, coming to Lehigh from his position as senior communications and digital signal processing engineer at General Electric Aerospace. His research projects at GE included communication systems modeling and simulation, VLSI research and development, beamforming algorithm research and communication link simulation tool research. A full professor at Lehigh since 2002, Blum's research interests remain in the area of signal processing and communications theory.

Currently, Blum leads a team from Lehigh's Integrated Networks for Electricity research cluster in a new research center that aims to develop new technologies to protect the nation's power grid from cyber attacks. The center, made possible by a $12.2 million grant to Lehigh and four other universities from the U.S. Department of Energy, is helping develop and test new technologies that will modernize and secure the U.S. electrical power grid.

$3.5 million of that funding will support Lehigh researchers as they develop technologies that will protect the grid from cybercriminals and similar threats. Lehigh’s work focuses on five distinct areas that nine faculty members—the largest concentration of investigators in the project—approach from a variety of perspectives. These include detecting attacks, mitigating attacks that can’t be identified, managing security systems, and testing and validation—including the discovery of false data.

The Lehigh team is developing algorithms and optimization tools that, for example, could detect, measure, and compare redundant signals at multiple locations in the grid.

“The INE research cluster has done really well in the five years it’s been in existence,” Blum says. “But research into the energy infrastructure is broad work, here on our campus and elsewhere, and progress will require a lot of interconnection. With a strong interdisciplinary work ethic already in place, Lehigh is well positioned to help lead the way.”