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Update on the Development of an Electrical Power Technician Associate Degree Program

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Curriculum and New Course Development in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Glenn T. Wrate P.E. Northern Michigan University

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Glenn T. Wrate received his B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. from Michigan Technological University (MTU) in 1984 and 1986, respectively. While attending MTU, he worked for Bechtel Power Corporation on the Belle River and Midland power generating stations. After graduating MTU, he worked for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from 1986 to 1992, primarily in the Special Studies and High Voltage DC (HVDC) Stations Group. He returned to MTU in 1992 to pursue a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. While completing his research he worked in the relay testing group at Northern States Power Company in Minneapolis.
After obtaining his Ph.D., Glenn accepted an appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). In 1999 he was promoted to Associate Professor, in 2001 he won the Falk Engineering Educator Award and was promoted to head the Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) program. He received the Karl O. Werwath Engineering Research Award in 2003. In 2004 he moved from the MSE program to take over the Electrical Engineering program. After guiding the program through accreditation, he stepped down in 2007.
Dr. Wrate has now returned to his boyhood home and is teaching at Northern Michigan University. He is a member of HKN and IEEE, a Registered Professional Engineer in California, and is a past chair of the Energy Conversion and Conservation Division of ASEE.

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Michael D. Rudisill Northern Michigan University

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Michael Rudisill received a B.S.E.E. from the University of Illinois and a M.S.E.E. from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Michigan and has been with Northern Michigan University for over 20 years.

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This paper presents the current status of an associate electrical engineering technology degree program in the electric power field. While many other programs in the electric power field have tried to focus on renewable energy to increase student interest, this program has focused on maintenance and testing of the existing power grid. This does preclude some of the graduates from working with renewables, and many of the students take elective courses in renewable technologies, but the primary focus of the program is on traditional systems and equipment. This paper looks at the difficulties in student recruitment, the level of rigor required in the courses to provide effective employees, the technical challenges of running labs with industrial-sized equipment, and the need to possibly transition some of the students into baccalaureate degree programs. Many traditional electrical engineering programs have begun to grow again in the last several years, but most electrical engineering technology programs have either been stagnant or have seen declining enrollments. While this program is relatively new, the trend in enrollment has been positive. These enrollment improvements are similar to several other engineering technology programs, and comparisons to their initiatives and the methods used are made. The level of rigor in the program’s coursework has been closely monitored by the faculty and industry representatives to determine if algebraic-based mathematical derivations are sufficient. In addition, problems with student testing of 2500 kVA three-phase transformers, 333 kVA single-phase transformers, and student operation and testing of 72.5 kV puffer SF6 circuit breakers, and industry-standard voltage regulators are covered along with suggested precautions and simplifications. Finally, the difficulties seen in more fully developing the student’s potential when there is such a high demand for students with only associate degree credentials is covered.

Wrate, G. T., & Rudisill, M. D. (2016, June), Update on the Development of an Electrical Power Technician Associate Degree Program Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27109

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