UNC Charlotte collaborating on workforce development project related to distributed power

The University’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) and three other major universities are collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) on a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) workforce development grant under the Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) program.

This five-year project, approaching $6.5 million, will be managed by EPRI and includes Georgia Tech, Clarkson University, the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and 10 utility companies from mostly the eastern United States.

“The primary goal of this project is to address the educational needs of the next generation of power engineers with particular focus on distributed power generation, storage and demand-response devices that change fundamental properties of the nation’s electrical grid,” said Badrul Chowdhury, the principal investigator who holds a joint appointment as professor in electrical and computer engineering and systems engineering and engineering management in the William States Lee College of Engineering .

The project team will define and develop educational offerings for all levels including high school students, college undergraduate and graduate students, practicing engineers pursuing professional master’s degrees or graduate certificates and experienced engineers keen on understanding and developing skills to design, plan, operate and protect the evolving energy systems that constitute the smart grid.

Johan Enslin, EPIC director and Duke Energy Distinguished Chair in Power Engineering Systems, stated, “This will support our EPIC mission of workforce development to modernize the power grid in cooperation with industry. EPRI will be instrumental in getting the consortium off the ground and laying the groundwork for the training activity based on the research investment of its utility partners.”

The GEARED program, as part of the SunShot Initiative, is awarding about $15 million to develop power engineering curriculum and launch four regional training consortiums. Led by U.S. universities, utilities and industry, these consortiums will train the next generation of energy engineers, system operators and utility professionals.