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Galvin Center Hosts Smart Grid and Resume Building Workshop with the Next Steps Program

August 18th, 2011 Comments off

Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation hosted a Smart Grid and Resume Workshop on August 3rd for students from the Next Steps program, a summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education Initiative of the Chicago Housing Authority and sponsored by Seimens.  Through the workshop, 23 students enjoyed an informational session on Smart Grid technology and possibilities followed by a one-on-one resume critique with Galvin Center staff.

“The students came prepared with long lists of questions.  They were very interested in the Smart Grid idea” said Melissa Gordon, Director of Education and Workforce Training at the Galvin Center. “They were especially curious and excited about IIT’s microgrid.  The functioning grid powering the campus helped turn the idea of Smart Grid into a tangible concept for them.”

The workshop was hosted in Wishnick Hall, one of the many buildings powered by electricity distributed through IIT’s “Perfect Power” microgrid system.  Funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 2008, IIT’s Perfect Power system distributes power in loops (as opposed to typical radial distribution) to limit the impact and possibility of blackouts.  When a fault occurs, the system’s many switches can detect it within 0.3 seconds and re-route power to avoid or isolate the blackout.  The microgrid’s smart meters are also able to better distribute energy and lower the daily peak load of the campus, even during high-peak times- such as Chicago summer where the city’s grid is typically strained to handle cooling systems in record temperatures.  In the event of a city blackout, the grid is even able to disconnect itself completely switching into “island” mode.  The Perfect Power system saves the campus nearly $1 million a year by reducing peak levels and the axillary costs associated with power outages such as contaminated research and alternative housing for students.

“The Perfect Power System is an excellent demonstration tool for our short course and workshop participants, at any education level.”  added Andrew Barbeau, Managing Director of the Galvin Center.  “It cuts through the ambiguity of the Smart Grid concept and shows that it works.”

This workshop is among the many organized by the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation as part of the center’s Education and Workforce Training initiatives.  Other programs include short courses, technical certifications, university coursework, and webinars.  All of these programs will be housed in the state-of-the-art IIT Smart Grid Education and Workforce Training Center, on the university’s main campus, following the completion of renovation in mid-October.  All programs through the Galvin Center are informed by research by the center and West Monroe Partners shedding light on Smart Grid Skills requirements and current training gaps in the industry.  This research is a first-step providing an in-depth view at what skills the Smart Grid technology industry will actually require, not just in engineering but in business, management, and other areas.

The CHA students are already ahead of the curve.  “I was delighted to hear that a large group of them aspire to be engineers.  The students were quite an intelligent bunch; they were so eager to fill up their resume, they had a page long full of activities they participated in since grade school,” said Gordon.  “It was refreshing to see such spirit and interest in the power engineering field.  They were not only curious about the Smart Grid concept, but also about programs at IIT, specifically.  We talked about all of the options available to them at this school and others, I have no doubt that this group of individuals will be helping to drive the industry in the future.”

 

Learn more about Next Steps Program

 

 

 

 

Release to come: “The Smart Grid Workforce of the Future,” Whitepaper

August 18th, 2011 Comments off

Final Drafts of  “The Smart Grid Workforce of the Future,” White Paper are being reviewed.  The paper summarizes findings from a 6-month long, Department of Energy (DOE) funded research project to identify specific skill requirements to be required in the Smart Grid industry and specific training gaps that exist training programs currently.

“In order to create and train a Smart Grid workforce, you have to first identify what you are training them to do, and the best avenues for delivering that training.” said Andrew Barbeau, Managing Director for the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation.

The research is designed as a first step towards creating educational programs, certifications, and materials for Smart Grid professionals-to-be.

Mohammad Shahidehpour, Director of the Galvin Center and Principle Investigator of this project elaborates.  “Our research sheds light on skill requirements necessary for Smart Grid industry sectors not typically top-of-mind when one thinks of Smart Grid technology such as customer management, legal, and organizational management.  A successful industry is going to need much more than engineers to install and maintain components.”

“Much more,” indeed:  research findings identify 98 specific skills related to smart grid technologies and processes, grouped into 12 major categories.

Barbeau discusses next-steps for the Galvin Center’s Smart Grid Education and Workforce Training initiatives.  “Work has already started on the development of effective curricula specifically tailored to these skill areas.”  Now that we have a road map of the needs of the industry, we can really get out there and start building an insightful and highly-trained workforce to power this innovative, emerging industry.