June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Energy Conversion and Conservation
14.534.1 - 14.534.11
Energy Management and Renewable Power Design Projects from a University Power Grid
Project-based learning is a recognized method for engaging students. Projects involving industrial power systems give students exposure to current methods and practices relevant to their future employment. Students benefit from the knowledge and experience of practicing engineers. Combining classroom instruction with a capstone design project reinforces key principles and gives students a practical application for their knowledge. This paper reports how electrical facilities of a university and personnel responsible for its design and maintenance became key partners in energy management and renewable power projects for a capstone senior design course. This paper documents grid operations, power plant efficiency, and energy cost control projects, focusing on a substation design for integrating a wind turbine into the university’s grid. The project includes topics in power systems analysis using practical design methods. Effective collaboration among university service and academic units can enhance students’ learning experiences.
Project-based learning engages students and promotes a deeper understanding of technical content.1,2 A senior capstone design course uses project-based learning to apply theory to practical situations. These course projects also strengthen project management skills such as team building, cost estimating, scheduling, and open-ended problem solving.3 Industrial sponsorship of design projects introduces students to principles and methods used by practicing engineers.4 Industrial sponsors benefit by having designs and prototypes developed at low cost. Developing and maintaining design project sponsors is critical for educators who wish to deliver challenging and technically relevant capstone design courses.
Finding relevant industrial power systems design and energy management projects is particularly important for two reasons. In the past fifteen years, the electric power industry underwent an economic restructuring that reduced the number of employed engineers. Engineering schools de- emphasized or eliminated power systems curriculum in response to reduced industrial demand. The electric power industry now faces an aging engineering workforce with a large number of individuals near retirement.5 The current electric power engineering workforce must transfer practical knowledge to students and novice engineers before leaving the workforce so that the power grid can grow reliably.
Volatile electricity prices encourage firms to use energy efficiently and explore application of renewable sources such as wind and solar power. These are high growth areas where practicing engineers combine knowledge from many disciplines to complete projects.6 Design teams benefit from interactions with engineers that have experience in these dynamic fields.
Local electric utilities and cooperatives currently provide the capstone design course, ECE495ab at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, with power systems projects. Industrial sponsors’
Spezia, C. (2009, June), Energy Management And Renewable Power Design Projects From A University Power Grid Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4580
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