Workforce Development for Electric Power Engineers

Monday, 6 October 2014: 16:40
Expo Center, 1st Floor, Universal 20 (Moon Palace Resort)
L. Guo (Northern Illinois University)
Due to the rapid growth of renewable energy technology such as solar and wind power, the nation will have a shortage of skilled power engineers; however, an ample supply of these engineers is critical in making the nation’s energy system greener and smarter. This presentation will address how to increase knowledge of renewable energy and power engineering amongst college and pre-college (middle and high school) students. The presented project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM program from 2012 to 2015.

This project uses a progressive approach as participants from different levels – high and middle school students, college students, teachers and faculty engage in collaborative learning about renewable energy. We are developing enabling teaching materials and courses to engage participants. This will enable students and faculty to research renewable energy technology and how these can solve environmental and societal issues. A broad-based advisory group representing industry has been used to identify areas of need in energy and the workforce related knowledge and skills needed in the enhancement of the curriculum. The curricular enhancements focus on authentic problems in renewable energy in ways in which students will be engaged in problem-based learning. In particular, we are developing and using sun tracking solar power systems as an enabling tool to create innovative teaching materials including demonstrations, hands-on experiments, and course modules. The progressive, scaffolding approach used in building content knowledge throughout the curriculum prepares graduates with strong content and research skills needed to advance the field of renewable energy. We are seeking to attract more students, especially women and under-represented groups, into power engineering, through outreach activities, open houses, lab tours and seminars.