June 22, 2003
June 22, 2003
June 25, 2003
8.182.1 - 8.182.9
An Assessment of Power Engineering Education
Thomas E. Salem and John G. Ciezki U.S. Naval Academy
Academic power engineering programs have been in a state of decline for numerous years. During this same timeframe, technology and the application of power electronics has been growing at a rapid pace. Additionally, the utility industry has experienced a dramatic change in regulation, the end of the Cold War has reshaped U.S. defense considerations and impressed new requirements on military systems, and the U.S. economy has both soared and slumped. Integral to the success of the U.S. economy is cost-effective and reliable power generation and transmission. Electrical brown-out or black-out events result in a loss of production capability or necessitate expensive backup generation equipment; soaring utility costs mean less capital for both product development and workforce expansion.
This paper begins with an overview of the U.S. economic trends that have influenced the employment demand for power and power electronic engineers. The demand for new talent will then be evaluated in the context of the demand for more-capable and cost-effective military platforms. In particular, the technological requirements of an “Electric Warship” will underscore the need for engineering graduates, both civilian and military. Next, an assessment is offered on the current state of electric power programs within the academic community for meeting these needs. In recognition of projected technology-driven military platforms, an enhanced power engineering concentration within the electrical engineering curricula at the Naval Academy has been proposed. The paper will conclude with an overview of the selection process for curriculum topics, course sequencing, and laboratory content.
Power Engineering and the U.S. Economy
With the innovative advancements in power electronic semiconductor materials over the past few decades, the field of power engineering has expanded from the traditional focus on utility-level generation and transmission of energy to include the widespread application and use of power electronics. Meanwhile, the utility industry itself has undergone tremendous upheaval with the impact of deregulation bringing about a paradigm shift in the operational analysis, forecasting, and pricing structures of energy transfer. In fact, this change in energy management “represents the largest global industry ever to move from regulation to competition. Numbers in the United States range from $250 billion to $300 billion annually of economic impact or about 3% of the U.S. GNP.”1 These numbers are not stagnant either, due to the overwhelming reliance of the world economies on electric power. Growth within the utility sector has been projected at more than 750 GW of new generation capacity within the next ten years to be installed worldwide, requiring an investment of $500 billion.2
Economic competition in the electric generation marketplace has introduced widespread cost reduction efforts as well. Management strategies often have included downsizing the workforce
Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education
Ciezki, J., & Salem, T. (2003, June), An Assessment Of Power Engineering Education Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12239
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