IEEE Power & Energy Society

Guest Editorial

Electrifying Education

Courses Ranging from K-12 All the Way to Ph.D.s

Education in electric power and energy engineering is rapidly changing in all arenas, from K–12 preparation through college curricula, to continuing education of industry engineers. Enrollment in courses dealing with energy and sustainability is experiencing all-time highs at every level. Short courses have emerged across the world for numerous topics related to smart grid technologies.

In this special issue, we offer five ideas for advances in electric power and energy engineering education. The content ranges from a high school activity involving wind farm design issues, through a community-based social marketing approach to conservation, to college courses on the smart grid and multidisciplinary curricula, programs, and a four-year Centre for Doctoral Training in wind technology.

A group comprising RPI, the University of Tennessee, PJM Interconnection, and CG Power has documented a high school activity for wind farm design designed to stimulate interest in science and technology. The activity leads high school students through key design issues including turbine layout, transmission and substation costs, land and maintenance costs, expected revenue, production tax credits, and other typical engineering planning topics. This article includes an assessment of the effectiveness of the activity in increasing knowledge, interest, and confidence in learning engineering.

A Kansas State group has documented a case study on community-based social marketing for energy conservation on a campus. Their techniques were designed to stimulate a reduction in energy consumption based on participation by the faculty and staff. The ideas need behavioral change to achieve desired goals. Motivation was found to be a key driver in obtaining desired results. This article discusses these barriers to energy conservation as well as tools for success.

Authors from Washington State University describe a new course for college seniors and beginning graduate students on smart grid technologies. The intense integration of communications and computing into power system operations was the challenge to accommodate both disciplines. The one-semester course included power system topics of supervisory control and data acquisition, wide area monitoring system, North American Electric Reliability Corporation, critical infrastructure protection, and basics of both power systems and computing/communications. The article includes the assessment results provided by the students who participated in the first class in the spring of 2012.

At Wichita State University, a similar effort to design a graduate-level course on smart grids is reviewed. The course included power systems topics of stability, outage management, synchrophasors, reliability, and estimation. In addition, the course included computer networking and communication topics of advanced metering, information security and privacy, and network protocols. The course also featured environmental and economic issues of distributed energy sources, microgrids, demand response, renewables, multiobjective optimization, and real-time control. The article concludes with lessons learned, challenges, and possible solutions to improve the course.

Our final article offers a view of the University of Strathclyde’s multiyear Ph.D. program with a focus on wind engineering. This concept is an example of the Centre for Doctoral Training concept in the United Kingdom. The objectives of this program are to prepare students to become tomorrow’s industrial and academic leaders, carry out research across all areas of wind engineering, work closely with industry, and recruit students from a range of engineering, science, and economic disciplines. The article describes each year’s activities from coursework, to projects, industrial interaction, and research.

Collectively the issue covers education issues from K–12 through the Ph.D. experience. Ideas are given to stimulate interest and excite educators to the challenges of today’s power and energy engineering technologies.


The guest editor thanks the editor-in-chief of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine, Mel Olken, for coordinating the preparation and publication of this special section.

In This Issue

Feature Articles

Departments & Columns

Upcoming Issue Themes

  • November/December 2017
    Renewable Integration
  • January/February 2018
    Societal Views of the Value of Electricity
  • March/April 2018
    Controlling the Unpredictable Grid