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Edvina Uzunovic, Miroslav Begovic & Marianna Vaiman

IEEE PES Education


Left to right: PES VP Education Edvina Uzunovic & PES Past President Miroslav Begovic with Marianna Vaiman

PES VP Education Edvina Uzunovic, PES Past President Miroslav Begovic, and Marianna Vaiman

Never has been education so much discussed and made important in the portfolio of IEEE PES activities. With electrical engineering graduation rates remaining relatively flat over the period of over a decade. According to ASEE report on engineering education, in 2006, there were 11,915 electrical engineering degrees conferred in the US, and that number was 11,385. In between, there was a big recession of 2009, which The Economist then described as L-shaped referring to its duration. Consequently, the dip in graduation rates reached 9,634 in 2010 before numbers began to grow to reach levels close to 2006 graduation rates at the present time.

Things look better when viewed from the perspective of Masters degrees conferred in the same period (from 5,256 in 2006 growing continuously to 7,768 in 2015, reflecting great need for educated workforce in all areas of electrical engineering). In the area of power and energy systems, these numbers look better.

Thanks to Dennis Ray from UW Madison and Nilanjan Chaudhury from Penn State University, who are in the process of compiling the statistics of yet another very useful IEEE PES survey of universities offering programs in power and energy (yet another product of our IEEE PES Education Committee). They have been very generous to share some of the initial results of the processing of survey data with us, and we know the statistics compiled from the responses of some 141 US and 11 Canadian universities. The estimated number of domestic undergraduate graduations in 2015/16 is approximately 330 for Canada and 2,400 for the US. The US estimates are more than double of what other analyses concluded about graduate rates in the early 2000’s.

That means that the trends from 1990s, when power systems engineering and related skills were taking a back seat to other electrical engineering disciplines, the importance of power and energy professions and education have grown substantially and are continuing to change the landscape of the profession. The paradigm of Smart Grid and proliferation of renewable energy resources, among other things, have contributed to those changes. We are continuing to witness a robust growth of interest in power and energy related engineering education, and those trends globally reflect upon our Society’s rejuvenation of membership age demographics, which only a decade ago provided for average age of PES member being well into a sixth decade of life. Currently, we are recording growth of 40 percent year-on-year in student chapters and great improvement in student memberships, due to our sustained efforts spanning a couple of decades. So, it seems that the needs of the economy and interests of students around the world are converging toward a very different professional landscape from the one that existed a generation ago.

The past 2016 year has been productive for PES and was fruitful for PES education as well. The PES membership at the end of 2016 reached a number close to 37,000 members. PES strength and value are in its ability to support our membership in creating education that fits our members’ needs.

PEDES 2016 finished off the PES year in terms of PES sponsored conferences. The 2016 IEEE International conference on Power Electronics, Drives and Energy Systems (IEEE PEDES2016) was held at Trivandrum, Kerala, India, from Dec. 14 to 17, 2016. PEDES was co-sponsored by four IEEE societies (IAS, IES, PELS and PES societies) and has since its start up back in 1996 acquired the reputation of a high quality technical conference that provide a forum for the exchange of information among practicing professionals in the areas of Power Electronics, Machines, Drives and Energy Systems. It also indicates a strong need for IEEE societies to work together to create forums and venues for exchange of ideas and technical work among different societies, as it required by the future Smart Grid.

A panel discussion on “Future Challenges in Power Electronic Education” was arranged on the final day of the conference. The panel stressed the importance of power electronic education in universities for a more energy efficient tomorrow and provided key recommendations for enriching power electronics education.

In this article, we plan to share with you some of the work that has been undertaken in the past 2016 and the new avenues that we plan to take in 2017 in terms of PES education.

Notable Initiatives

IEEE Power & Energy Education Committee (PEEC) Survey

The PEEC survey is ran every two years and geared towards U.S. and Canadian Universities with objective to gather information about curriculum and faculty from electrical engineering, four years institutions in those countries. In 2016, a new survey results have been collected to reflect the status of the academia in those two countries for the years 2015-2016. Currently the collected results are under review and should be available to PES members by the end of 2017. It is thanks to this initiative that we were able to provide some of the data listed in the introductory part of this article.

IEEE Power & Energy Education Committee (PEEC) Student Meeting Activities

This subcommittee under PEEC committee is in charge of PES student meeting activities for   GM, T&D, and North American Power Symposium (NAPS). Typical program activities include Sunday social activity (e.g., city tour), Monday morning overview prior to plenary session, technical tours (both student-only and general membership), student poster session, Student/Faculty/Industry Panel session, and Student/Faculty/Industry Luncheon.

In addition to meeting activities, the subcommittee typically provides meeting support for qualifying students regardless of their country of citizenship provided they are students at U.S. and Canadian universities. PES recognizes that the future of PES and power & energy industry lies with our students and we invest heavily in our supporting our students. The table below shows extend of PES support.

Conference Number of students helped with hotel accommodations and meals and other activities Number of students helped with registration subsidy
2016 Transmission and Distribution (T&D) 90 170
2016 General Meeting (GM) 272 779
2016 North American Power Symposium (NAPS) 95 150

IEEE Power & Energy Education Committee (PEEC) International Survey

Sparked by the interest of PES members in different regions, the plan is to start a pilot international PEEC survey, similar to the survey well established in U.S. and Canada, but in this case geared towards New Zealand and Australia. These two countries have a number of similarities with the North American education and thus, perceived as a good starting point for the international survey.

PES Scholarship Plus (S+) Initiative

In 2016, the PES S+ Committees awarded PES Scholarships to 230 students from 111 universities across the U.S., Canada & Puerto Rico.

Last year the IEEE Italy PES Chapter has instituted the “IEEE PES Italy Scholarship Award (IPISA) Fund” with the aim of attracting bright & meritorious students to the Electrical Engineering, and in particular the power engineering, stream.

Coordination with Other Entities (Other IEEE PES Committees, DOE?)

Next GenEEI Initiative

The Next GenEEI Iniative addresses potential needs for power system analytics toolbox in public domain by providing a very flexible and powerful platform to students, instructors and practitioners who would like to explore the world of large system models without having to dive into the complex programming exercise that it entails. The potential benefits of creating a repository of useful software tools, as well as system models of various sizes is

The Next GenEEI Initiative addresses many aspects of power systems education, including transforming educational approach to address rapidly changing electrical energy industry, covering the gap between the curriculum and industry needs, engaging and challenging next generation of engineers, creating qualified replacement of aging workforce, and providing continued education to working engineers.

The Next GenEEI includes a global on-line power system community and educational platform.

Capabilities of the platform include:

  • Allows students and engineers to run the on-line engine to analyze power system behavior using provided test power flow cases, ranging from several buses to several thousand buses.
  • Students and engineers are able to write and execute their own programs to analyze the power system.
  • Open source/free software applications will be shared with the community and supported through the Forum.
  • Any university/vendor/engineer/student can upload their applications provided that the apps are free for the community to use, and are accompanied by a data set and training material on how to use the app.

It is envisioned that Next GenEEI will find its home in the PES Resource Center, where it will be accessible to all the PES members. As progress in developing new applications and providing multiple large scale test system models will undoubtedly create new content and require frequent refreshing of the presentation, it is likely that it will become a “go to” place for many undergraduate and graduate students, as well as those who would like to explore the limits and access data for their own studies. It could enhance undergraduate research capabilities by providing tools which could not have been easily accessible before. For example, it could embrace the new generation of large scale synthetic power system models which is currently being developed, having an objective to provide large scale test system models without revealing critical vulnerabilities of the real-world systems which are nowadays often targeted by cyber security threats and other dangers.

IEEE PES Long Range Planning Sub-Committee 4 – Education

The objective of the PES LRP SC 4 is to facilitate and coordinate PES education activities and to plan specific goals for the PES education in the next 3 – 5 years. In the past 2016 year, the cooperation of LRP SC 4 and PES Education has resulted in the establishment of New Education Product Development Committees. PES Education is responsible for technical tutorial, workshop and webinar generated for PES members. The generated material is available to PES members freely and is published at PES Resource Center (http://resourcecenter.ieee-pes.org/).

The New Product Development Committee is fully operational and has held its first WebEx meeting in December 2016. The committee currently has 16 members coming from industry and academia. The organizational chart of the NPD Committee and its subcommittees is given below.

NPD Committee manages and is responsible for the policies, operations, development, and marketing of the PES webinar, tutorial, plain talk and certificate services.

Webinar Sub-Committee manages and is responsible for the policies, operations, development, and marketing of the PES Webinar services.

Tutorial and Plain Talk Sub-Committee is responsible for the tutorials, plain talk and certification operations, development, and marketing services. Two PES GM 2016 Tutorials have been video recorded and will be soon offered to the PES members as well as non-members under PES Resource Center. These tutorials will be not available freely to the PES members as other Resource Center Products to recover PES costs and to recognize high demand on those tutorials.

In agreement with the PEEC Committee Chair and Life Long Learning Sub-Committee Chair, the later subcommittee has been moved to a sub-committee under New Product Development committee and renamed to Selection & Quality Control Sub-Committee to reflect properly its duties and objective. The Sub-Committee will continue review and selection of tutorials, in additional quality control and selection of webinars, and all product under NPD Committee.