Tom Reddoch, EPRI, Talking About Issues Driving Changes In Power Engineering Curriculum

EPRI GridEd: educating a readied power engineering workforce for the modern grid

This past spring, the EPRI GridEd Distributed Technology Training Consortia (DTTC) hosted a workshop to inform stakeholders about the DTTC’s activities and progress, and to discuss the strategic direction of GridEd. “The workshop gave us a chance to dig in and share ideas about GridEd’s educational initiative that’s training the next generation of power engineers who will shape the modern grid with distributed energy resources,” said Steven Coley, a senior project engineer in EPRI’s Distributed Renewables group.

Attendees included partner universities from eight states, EPRI staff, utility advisors and two GridEd student innovation board members.

Proposal Summary Graphic

Map of the GridED partnership

 

GridEd is comprised of EPRI, four university partners [Georgia Technological Institute, University of North Carolina Charlotte, Clarkson University, and University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez], and 15 utility and industry sponsors.

The 2015 workshop allowed GridEd stakeholders to discuss key activities including expanding short course offerings in 2015, new/revised university courses being developed at partner universities, a two-semester course on the fundamentals of power, student engagement via conferences and innovation boards, and special K-12 outreach activities.

“We plan to have two of these workshops annually, in conjunction with EPRI’s Power Delivery and Utilization Advisory Meeting,” said Coley.

Tom Reddoch, EPRI, talking about issues driving changes in power engineering curriculum

Tom Reddoch, EPRI, talking about issues driving changes in power engineering curriculum

 

In addition, several days after the GridEd workshop, Salt River Project hosted a one-day GridEd short course, Addressing the Educational Needs for Engineers Designing and Operating Future Electric Grids with Distributed Energy Resources (DER). This one-day course was a continuation of GridEd’s short course tutorial series that was launched in 2014 as a first step in addressing the educational needs of practicing engineers. The 2014 topics included:

  • distributed storage and generation technologies & applications
  • electric power distribution systems
  • dynamic distribution system modeling
  • business case analysis in the electric utility industry

According to Coley, these first four courses represent an expanding library of short courses, which provide training programs that enhance the understanding of analytical procedures, industry practices, and emerging technologies for electric power system planning, design, and operation of present and future electric grids.

A multi-semester course addressing the fundamentals of electric power systems is also underway. According to Coley, this course is essential to engineers who want to work in the power industry, upgrade professional skills, supplement their traditional college education, and/or obtain professional development hours.

Students at affiliate GridEd universities have additional opportunities to engage in the power engineering conversations through the GridEd Student Innovation Board and GEARED student conferences.

In addition to the workshops and short course tutorials, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Clarkson University spearheaded an inventory of power engineering courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels between the four partnering universities of GridEd. Select findings from the inventory include:

  • A requirement for a power engineering course for all electrical engineering undergraduates at each university
  • New courses on clean energy at each university covering a broad range of content
  • A two-semester sequence of courses in power systems at each university (a three-semester sequence exists at UPRM).
  • A wide variety of advanced courses at the graduate level are offered in three traditional categories/tracks: (1) Systems, (2) Machines and Drives, and (3) Power Electronics.

Between the four universities, 15 courses are offered in the power systems track, two in the machines/drives track, and three in the power electronics track.