Engineers of the future eye a changing power grid

by Peter Behr, E&E reporter
From EnergyWire: Wednesday, December 2, 2015

U of Pitt Swanson School
Engineering students at the University of Pittsburgh’sSwanson School of Engineering collaborate on next-generation technologies. From left: Stephanie Cortes, Alvaro Cardoza, Ansel Barchowsky and Joseph Kozak. Photo by Pete Behr

PITTSBURGH — The challenges of climate policy and disruptive technologies that cloud the grid’s future look like opportunities to some of the engineering students who hope to manage that future.

A recent power industry conference at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering was a platform for students to describe research projects on renewable power generation, semiconductor electronics, direct-current power lines, battery storage and electric vehicle charging.

U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the climate change threat it addresses have caused deep political divisions around the country. But the agendas of these students, their professors and the companies that support their work amount to a big bet on the inevitable transformation of power grids, however the immediate politics work out.

Stephanie Cortes, a Swanson senior from Florida, is working on bidirectional power control systems to automate when electric vehicle owners recharge their cars, and when they return excess power to the grid. The goal, she said, is “to reduce grid impacts, increase confidence in the system and facilitate integration of EVs” into power networks.

Stephanie is a member of FEEDER’s Student Innovation Board.

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