Students will have hands-on training with real-world software and hardware to design and manage self-healing power grids
A new lab unveiled at the University of Central Florida (UCF) aims to turn out the next generation of experts in smart grid technology.
The Siemens Digital Grid Lab, located on UCF’s campus, features the same cutting-edge technology used by many private and public utilities to manage the nation’s power systems.
It is one of only a handful across the nation that give students hands-on experience in electrical grid technology and which incorporates traditional and renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Longtime partners UCF and Siemens reckon the lab will help develop the next generation of engineers that will ultimately lead to advancements in the US energy grid.
Students will have hands-on training with real-world software and hardware to design and manage self-healing power-distribution grids to quickly recover from natural disasters, cyberattacks and other outages.
They will also train on the industry’s latest microgrid software to manage and operate dynamic generation assets like solar, wind power, storage and electric vehicles.
“The energy industry is rapidly evolving and demands highly skilled workers who can innovate and reimagine solutions,” John Hitt, president, UCF.
“This new lab bolsters UCF’s leading role in providing the top-notch talent that employers require and the problem solvers that society needs. And this elite facility will help expand a Siemens internship programme at UCF that is one of the premier opportunities in our country for emerging engineers and computer science professionals.”
The 660-square-foot lab will equip students with the latest skills needed to land jobs in the evolving energy field, an industry facing a skills gap akin to the nationally acknowledged talent gap in the manufacturing sector.
A recent Department of Energy jobs report found that the country does not have enough workers to fill 1.5 million new energy jobs by 2030 and 75 per cent of companies have challenges in hiring qualified candidates.
“The power grid is getting smarter, yet it will never be smart enough to run without workers who can manage it. The industry, even as it builds out a smarter – and yes, more automated – grid, needs more people like engineers who can work in control centers or design electrical systems,” said Mike Carlson, president of Siemens Digital Grid in North America.
“The energy jobs of today and tomorrow require the skills to match the new technologies that are moving our grid into the 21st century. We’re thrilled that this partnership with UCF will help further close the energy skills gap and give these students the experience that will strongly position them, and our country, for success.”
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