Five Heads Are Better Than One: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Course on Smart Grids: Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities
IEEE Power and Energy Magazine
According to the U.S. depArtment of energy (doe), "SMart grID generally refers to a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation." this initiative not only requires power engineers to have a better understanding of auxiliary fields like signal processing, controls, information technology, and communication networks but also needs experts in the auxiliary fields to understand the basic
... d the basic operations of power systems. there is great need in industry for such crosstrained professionals to meet the many challenges of modernizing the power grid. to train professionals and students in smart grids, one needs a creative curriculum that crosses traditional divisions based on disciplines. for example, students taking advanced courses in the power systems area traditionally have an electrical engineering background, as do students in the control systems and telecommunications fields. But students interested in communication networks typically have a computer science or computer engineering background. this divergence results in many challenges for the coeducation of such professionals and students. this article presents the thought process behind the design of a graduate-level course on smart grids, known as Smart grid Applications, that the authors team-taught at Wichita State University in Kansas in the spring of 2012. furthermore, the article discusses the course experience from both the student and faculty perspectives and lists some key lessons learned and challenges faced. Building on these lessons and in view of the need to overcome such challenges, a general approach to interdisciplinary education in the 21st century is proposed, one that can be applied to smart grid education elsewhere.