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Methods and Approaches for Developing the Future Leaders of the Electric Power and Energy Industries

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

ECE Program Development

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.901.1 - 24.901.21



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Paper Authors


Brandon M. Grainger University of Pittsburgh

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Brandon M. Grainger was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Currently, he is pursuing his Ph.D. concentrating in power electronics, microgrids, and medium voltage DC systems at the University of Pittsburgh. Mr. Grainger has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration in electric power engineering and in 2007 graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Pitt. From August 2004 through August 2006, Brandon performed four work rotations with ANSYS. From April 2008 to April 2009, Mr. Grainger interned for Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc, during the summer of 2010 and 2011, with ABB Corporate Research Center in Raleigh, NC, and during the summer of 2012 with Siemens-Robicon in New Kensington, PA. Brandon’s research interests are in power electronic technologies and electric machines, specifically, power electronic converter design, power electronic applications suitable for renewable integration, and FACTS devices. He is also one of the first endowed R.K. Mellon graduate student fellows at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a student member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society, Power Electronics Society, and Industrial Electronics Society.

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Gregory F. Reed University of Pittsburgh

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Gregory F. Reed is the Director of the Electric Power Initiative in the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, Associate Director of the University’s Center for Energy, and Associate Professor of Electric Power Engineering in the Swanson School’s Electrical & Computer Engineering Department. He is also the Director of the newly established Grid Technologies Collaborative of the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory's Regional University Alliance; and an inaugural member of the National Academies of Science and Engineering's Energy Ambassador Program. His research interests, teaching activities, and related pursuits include advanced electric power and energy generation, transmission, and distribution system technologies; power electronics and control technologies (FACTS, HVDC, and MVDC systems); renewable energy systems and integration; smart grid technologies and applications; and energy storage. Dr. Reed has over 27 years of combined industry and academic experience in the electric power and energy sector, including engineering, research & development, and executive management positions throughout his career with the Consolidated Edison of New York, ABB Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., and DNV-KEMA. He is an active member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society and the American Society of Engineering Education. Dr. Reed earned his Ph.D, in electric power engineering from the University of Pittsburgh (1997), M.Eng. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1986), and B.S. from Gannon University (1985).

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Methods and Approaches for Developing the Future Leaders of the Electric Power and Energy Industries Strong growth in the global demand for electric power is projected for the next half-centuryand beyond. This growth will provide tremendous opportunities for companies that are leadersin the chain of industries that generate, transmit and distribute electric power. While greatopportunities await these organizations, they are all preparing for the impact of workforce andtechnology development neglect that was dominant in their industries in the 1980s and 1990s. Ina landmark study, completed in 2010 by the IEEE Power & Energy Society’s EngineeringWorkforce Collaborative, the need was identified nationally to double the number of electricpower engineering students at the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. levels based on the aging workforcedemographics in the electric power sector. In a similar regional effort from 2006, the ThreeRivers Workforce Investment Board presented the results of a study designed to raise awarenessand understanding of the aging workforce issue facing Southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA).Utilizing data from the U.S. Census Bureau along with a survey of 1,500 regional employees,results indicate that the vast majority of SWPA employees in energy-related areas will be eligibleto retire in less than 20 years. More alarming, in the case of both studies, is that there is asignificant deficit of employees aged 22-34 available to replace these employees upon retiring. Universities and engineering schools across the United States are developing a new sense ofpurpose in the field of electric power engineering. Being driven by the aging workforcedemographics in the industry a need for new innovations, as well as recent government fundingfor modernized educational programs and research activities, electric power is in the midst of arevolutionary period of advancement. This article presents a university program model, underdevelopment since 2007, which fosters continual growth in classroom numbers at both theundergraduate and graduate levels, as well as international reputation with global organizationsas research partnerships develop outside the United States. First, a review of new and revised curriculum development at the undergraduate and graduatelevels will be explained including the details of both the undergraduate and newly developedgraduate certificate program within the engineering school. The greatest assessment of anundergraduate program’s effectiveness is to monitor growth in classroom numbers, number ofstudents acquiring the certificates, and placement rate of graduating seniors. Trends of thesemetrics will be provided. To accommodate working professionals enrolled in the graduatecertificate program, real-time distance learning principles will be explained. Not to be confusedwith traditional distance learning where lectures are pre-recorded, real-time distance learningallows professionals to attend lectures from any location if constrained by work related activities. Curriculum development is important to establish fundamentals but fresh, relevant, andchallenging research projects funded by internationally recognized organizations andgovernment entities has been shown to attract and solidify within the student mindset that thereare critical needs and purpose. Overviews of industry and government collaborations withEaton, ABB, Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric, FirstEnergy, the U.S. Dept. of Energy, ARPA-E, andothers will show how industry involvement will help drive program expansion at all levels.These program partners, who attend the university’s annual electric power industry conference(EPIC), understand the need to invest in students to get a return in their investment – that is,future employees. Growth metrics in EPIC annually, to be provided, are an indicator that theuniversity program is providing a positive service to students, industry, and bridgingcommunication between students and industry representatives to fill the needs in the electricpower sector.

Grainger, B. M., & Reed, G. F. (2014, June), Methods and Approaches for Developing the Future Leaders of the Electric Power and Energy Industries Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22834

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