Department of Energy
The ultimate goal of this effort is to rebuild U.S. Power Engineering education programs to meet immediate and near-future needs. We propose to do this with a very high likelihood of success by creating a new educational framework in power engineering that can start producing a large number of graduates within a short period of time. This will require much needed faculty development, new classroom materials and laboratories in this critical area. Towards this goal, this proposal has the following specific objectives:
1. Form a large and diverse learning/teaching community by establishing a consortium with a large number of universities that represent an extensive diversity in terms of geography, size, combination of teaching/research mission, and service to underrepresented groups.
2. Facilitate the implementation of laboratories, developed at the University of Minnesota through grants from NSF, NASA and the U.S. Navy- the Office of Naval Research, that as required by these grants are commercialized through third parties. These laboratories are essential in supporting a forward-looking curriculum in this field. Acquiring of these specific laboratories by individual universities by their own funds makes them stakeholders and is a strong indicator of their commitment to establishing laboratory courses that are essential in the undergraduate curriculum that redefines the education that is foundational in the electric power sector.
3. Having similar laboratory setups and software, collectively develop and share laboratory experiments that exploit the flexibility offered by these novel laboratories to suit the diverse nature of the consortium universities.
4. Encourage and facilitate the participating universities to further disseminate these laboratories, and the curriculum in which they are used, in their region to other universities and technical and community colleges.
This educational effort will allow a significant fraction of all U.S. electrical engineering programs to obtain at least one setup of the laboratories which potential adopters can use at their locations to gain familiarity with the laboratories and associated curricular materials. The framework of the consortium universities will be self-sustaining so that it will continue to improve and disseminate the electric energy systems curriculum after the project ends. There are no restrictions on who can join the consortium, so additional universities can be expected to become part of it. The outcomes and benefits of this project will thus last far beyond the duration of this project. The faculty development started by the project will be continued by the self-sustaining framework. The large cadre of trained faculty will ensure a continuing supply of well-trained graduates well-equipped to enter the workforce, ready to tackle the challenges facing the electric energy sector. A significant fraction of all graduating bachelor degree students will be impacted. For the 300 U.S. colleges and universities reporting their graduation numbers to the ASEE in 2008, the 82 universities participating in the project consortium in 2008 graduated roughly 25% of the total of approximately 13,000. Thus the 82 consortium universities will enable over 3000 electrical engineering students each year, assuming graduation numbers similar to 2008, to enroll, if they so choose, in the developed electric energy systems curriculum. When these consortium universities disseminate the curriculum to other colleges and universities in their local regions and these universities also adopt the curriculum, the number of students who have the opportunity to take the courses will become even larger. Students are currently very interested in electric energy systems, especially from the viewpoint of renewables and energy efficiency. The successful implementation and use of the laboratories at the consortium universities will complement and will be synergistic with present ongoing power engineering curricular dissemination efforts at the University of Minnesota, which is the consortium lead. These combined efforts will transform the undergraduate power engineering curriculum and provide a strengthened foundation for graduate education and research in electric energy area.