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Design Of A Power Engineering Outreach Experiment Using Feedback From Non Engineers And Grade 9 12 Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Outreach Projects and General Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.454.1 - 12.454.14



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Paper Authors

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Valentina Cecchi Drexel University

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Michael Kleinberg Drexel University

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Milo Tong Drexel University

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Bridget Kleinberg Drexel University

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Karen Miu Drexel University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Design of Power Engineering Outreach Experiments using Feedback from Non-Engineers and Grade 9-12 Students Abstract – This paper outlines the design process used in the development of electric power experiments for outreach. Existing experiments, originally developed for undergraduate and graduate power engineering students, were re-designed and adapted for outreach education. An iterative design procedure was employed with the active involvement of and feedback from a non-engineer and a high school student. New laboratory manuals were developed and a new set of laboratory activities were selected. Assessment surveys were also created to evaluate the participants’ understanding of the material and the effectiveness of the hardware laboratory experience.

I. Introduction

In response to the general public’s increasing interest in power and energy systems, especially for non-engineering professionals that require education and training in electric power systems, the power engineering community has responded with the development of several educational courses, e.g. [1]-[6]. The Power Engineering Society (PES) has developed videos to educate and attract students into the power engineering area [7], and various utility companies have developed own educational material. However, as a large-scale critical infrastructure, the electric power system has proven itself to be challenging for non-engineers to fully comprehend. In addition, the level of understanding of concepts like electricity and common electrical equipment is often limited in the general public. Please note that throughout the paper the term “non-engineers” refers to students and/or professionals, who have not been formally educated or who have not practiced in an engineering field.

At Drexel university, three electric power engineering experiments were designed as outreach experiences for non-engineers and high school students. The outreach experiments were created in order to increase the understanding of the electric power infrastructure. Specifically, basic concepts of electricity, electrical equipment and power hardware are introduced. Then, advanced notions of how electricity and power flow within a system are also addressed. Since power distribution systems are the first link to the consumers and represent the primary connection between the general public and the energy delivery system, in this initial work a focus on power distribution systems has been selected.

Software controlled hardware experiments were designed and developed within the Reconfigurable Distribution Automation and Control Laboratory (RDAC) [8]-[10]. The hardware laboratory environment mimics an actual power distribution system. This enables visualization of the system as a whole, thus avoiding challenges presented by the actual physical scale of the system. In addition, while accompanying software-only experiments have been developed, their direct link to a tactile hardware system is made in an effort to avoid a sense of abstraction which may be felt by the non-engineering participants unaccustomed to physical system simulators.

This paper will outline and discuss the main concerns addressed in the development process of the outreach experiments. It will explain how existing experiments developed for undergraduate and graduate power engineering students were re-designed and adapted for

Cecchi, V., & Kleinberg, M., & Tong, M., & Kleinberg, B., & Miu, K. (2007, June), Design Of A Power Engineering Outreach Experiment Using Feedback From Non Engineers And Grade 9 12 Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2995

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