Summary of Dr. Massoud Amin’s Background and Service

As background, Massoud was born in Tabriz (capital of Iranian Azerbaijan) on July 4th, 1961 at the American Hospital there (please see “Power to the People,” Cover story of the Minnesota Magazine, pp. 18-21, January/February 2005 at MN_Mag_Amin.pdf): As a youngest sibling growing up in Tehran and Tabriz in the early 1960s, he often visited the arid villages outside the city of Tabriz while his father, a medical doctor (OBGYN and surgeon, who had worked with Dr. William Mayo in the late 1930s) and his mother (first Iranian woman Aluma of Sorbonne and Cambridge) who worked for the Iranian Red Cross (that his maternal grandfather had founded and served as its first director), saw patients there. He witnessed families scratching out a subsistence living, farming plots of earth so parched they cracked under the searing sun, suffering from low life expectancy (median life expectancy was in their late 40s).

Then in mid to late 1960s, electricity reached these small villages. He realized at a young age that electricity is fundamental to modern society. This passion was reinforced when he was 16 and happened to be visiting New York City when lightning triggered a 24-hour blackout in the city in July 1977 and the resultant chaos and looting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMvhgHZlRn8). He has demonstrated and proven, repeatedly since then, his commitment to helping improve our security and resilience of electric power systems because this infrastructure has so much positive influence on the human condition, our economy and security. And whatever is connected to this system… in summary to help “power progress…” be it access to electricity, clean water, telephony, Internet, roads and bridges, or human rights and social justice.

Fast forward to late 1990s, as further introduction, during January – May 1998 Dr. Amin created the largest R&D initiative in the history of the United States on reliability, security, resilience, and efficiency of the interdependent critical infrastructures for power and energy, oil/gas/water, telecom and the Internet, financial markets and logistics/transportation systems and more:

  • While working at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), during Jan. 1998 – Feb. 2003, Dr. Amin conceived and articulated the vision of a smart self-healing grid where the use of computer, communication, sensing and control technologies overlay electric power grids to enhance reliability, improve security, increase resilience and to reduce the cost and emissions. This was a very bold concept in a rather stagnated R&D area, and a radical departure from the status quo necessitating fundamental advances in R&D into dynamical systems that range from advanced micro sensors-controllers to continental-scale coupled infrastructures – it raised and addressed serious questions in modeling, robust/self-healing controller designs, and dynamical interaction in complex interdependent layered networks. His vision thus enabled many from across diverse stakeholder communities to engage in this research and make significant contributions for two decades that are on-going and accelerating globally.
  • Expressing this vision was only the first step of the process in achieving his stated goals, as such massive projects require the successful collaboration of many individuals and organizations. Demonstrating exceptional technical leadership Dr. Massoud Amin spearheaded the effort to create appropriate government/university/industry partnerships to tackle the problem. What emerged was the largest systems- theoretic research and development project during 1998-2001… He created and led a major international EPRI/DoD research and development program in Complex Interactive Networks/Systems Initiative (CIN/SI), which he initiated in mid-1998 in response to growing concerns over the vulnerability of critical national infrastructures. CIN/SI developed six research consortia consisting of 108 professors and over 240 researchers in 28 U.S. universities, along with two energy companies, co-funded by EPRI and the U.S. DOD under the GICUR program — $24 million over 3 years — 58% of funding came from Dr. Amin’s budget at EPRI and 42% from the U.S. DDR&E through the Army ARO.
  • In the course of the CIN/SI, he also initiated and led R&D in to the smart, secure, self-healing grid, and led the development of more than 24 advanced technologies transferred to the industry (including 7 of those technologies fused under the umbrella he called the smart grid, and several more were in the cyber/information security and dynamic risk mitigations). The success of this huge initiative has been demonstrated in various ways and includes 420 publications and 24 technologies extracted and implemented in industry. As an aside note, nearly 170 of those young graduate students and post-doc that he funded and co-mentored are now leaders in the academy, industry, and government – created several dozen of inventions and patents — and are connected to Dr. Amin in LinkedIn and much more in how he engaged them and others in the smart grid and security areas – two decades later!
  • Throughout the course of the CIN/SI, Massoud Amin formed alliances, led contracting, funding, and management of these government/university/industry consortia for the full range of basic research to products. His responsibilities also included not only supervision of all aspects of program administration (from concept to the marketplace) with numerous stakeholders, but also his own pivotal contributions to fundamental research and synthesis of applied solutions. His unique ability to engage diverse groups (including 94% of the North American utilities, universities, companies, US Government agencies, the US Congress, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Governors’ Association, and the White House), with a clear mission-driven purpose to advance both understanding mathematical underpinnings of these complex and critical systems is exemplary, and evidence of his superb servant leadership abilities.

With the outstanding accomplishments of CIN/SI and in response to 9/11, he was promoted and directed all security R&D at EPRI for all North American utilities. He advised leadership of public and private sectors, including Secretary of the U.S. DHS, the White House and the National Science Advisor at the OSTP, Director of NSF and NIST, Undersecretaries at the U.S. DoE and DoD, DIA, FBI, and other agencies, while developing and leading innovating effective data-driven applied solutions and deployed strategies against advanced threats. The impact of his campaign for a secure and smart self-healing grid is also evident from the following:

  • The area of self-healing infrastructure, which he pioneered and works in, was recommended in 2005 by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as one of three thrust areas for the National Plan for R&D in support of Critical Infrastructure Protection.
  • His foundational work in the above areas has become a leading concept in sixteen on-going programs at EPRI, NSF, DHS, DoE and DoD. These initiatives continue to be widely successful worldwide. Industries involved in developing/managing smart-grid technologies range from telecom/IT, automation and controls, semiconductors and equipment manufacturers to traditional energy suppliers.
  • Defense applications of his work are in Network-Centric Objective Force, which is now part of the Future Combat Systems ($40B).

In addition to his technical leadership activities, Dr. Amin has maintained an active research program and made significant contributions in predictive system identification methods coupled with analytical and multi- domain modeling, fast simulation, optimization, testing methodologies, and applies them to complex and large dynamical systems. Since 2003, he has given four briefings at the White House and nine Congressional briefings on smart grids, security, and leadership in scientific R&D. He was one of the three external faculty members on behalf of the Engineering directorate at the NSF to create the content and foci for the Cyber-infrastructure division at the NSF in CISE. He has also served as a U.S. delegation representative to several world engineering and scientific congresses. He has been regularly interviewed by the media including: New York Times; USA Today; Reuters; CNN; BBC; Washington Post; Forbes; Wall Street Journal; U.S. News; AP; NPR; and PRI.

Because of all that is summarized above, his past work on resilient and damage-adaptive aircraft, and logistic networks, and more… he advised our highest level of government and was offered several positions that he felt uncomfortable to speak about, due to both humility and the security matters involved. Some that we know about are that he was offered the assistant director for technology (CTO) at the White House OSTP as well as leading modernization of acquisitions and contracting at the Pentagon – by using state-of-the-art supercomputers (IBM’s Watson), artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data-driven performance-based metrics for actual impacts to increase transparency, accountability and protection of our national security and supporting our veterans.

In addition, the leadership of MN National Guard, many State, Federal agencies And others have been his colleagues (some were his students) since 2003. He also created and delivered an on-going cyber- security program for our sister Nat’l Guard partners in Croatia (which Gen. Nash highlighted and thanked him for his leadership a few years ago), also the former MN Sect. of State Honorable Mark Ritchie, the current Commissioner Steve Kelly and many others know him well, for his quiet humble service behind the scenes, that he provided immense support to many of our state agencies – public and private.

Dr. Massoud Amin has been at the University of Minnesota since March 2003, and helped re-invigorate the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI, formerly the Center for the Development of Technological Leadership, CDTL, which he led during March 2003-September 2018) at the UofM, an Institute that carries thousands of students to careers as technology leaders in several areas, such as Management of Technology (MOT.umn.edu), and two new graduate degrees that he created at the UofM in Security Technologies in 2009, and Medical Device Innovation in 2014. He also co-founded the annual cyber security summit in Minnesota (now in its 10th year) as a public service and outreach for the Security Technologies in 2010.

As recent examples of his work, there were three articles/interviews (parts of one of his forthcoming books), with Mr. David Wagman (at Engineering360, which gets 450,000+ readership), but with more examples, deeper dives, graphs, analyses, and yet hopefully accessible to a wider audience — so these are at a macro level:

In conclusion, Massoud has seen the chaos an urban blackout can cause… seen wars and injustice… But long before that, he saw poor villages, and the lives of their people, blossom through electricity, water, education and a greater purpose that gives them real hope and pathways to achieve them. It is service to society – using science and technology, a just legal system, and human ingenuity with the goal of improving social conditions – that drives him.

Massoud Amin