They Have the POWER: Engineers Help Idaho Students Learn About the Power Grid in Real Time

Friday, January 23 2009


Jan. 23, 2009 Written by Leah Andrews MOSCOW, Idaho – Engineering students at the University of Idaho’s Moscow campus will have the chance to work with real-time power systems, thanks to a distinctive partnership with and a generous donation from POWER Engineers, a leading consulting firm based in Idaho. The $500,000 gift from POWER will establish a state-of-the-art laboratory with a Real Time Digital Simulator, as well as external voltage and current amplifiers to be used to interface the simulator with actual protection and control devices. "POWER Engineers’ generosity is driven by recognition of the high caliber of the engineering degree at the University of Idaho and the integral role our graduates play in an increasingly complex business world," said University of Idaho President Steven Daley-Laursen. "I am grateful that alumni and prominent business leaders are stepping up during this challenging economic time. This gift will help the university continue to prepare a highly skilled power engineering workforce to compete in today's global marketplace." The partnership between POWER and the university’s Department of Electrical Engineering has established one of the nation’s premier centers for power engineering research, education, and collaboration between industry and academia. The new POWER Center for Engineering at the University of Idaho is scheduled to come online in spring 2009. It will provide students with real-time power systems simulator equipment and training. The technology and skills will help students learn to implement and test protection and control hardware while connected to a simulated power system model. Students can observe how the control hardware interacts with the power system and learn to design schemes that react to power system failure scenarios that include lightning strikes, natural disasters or even terrorist attacks. “We are dedicated to increasing opportunities for power engineers in the United States,” said Bill Eisinger, POWER Engineers transmission and distribution vice president and a University of Idaho alumnus. “As an industry leader we need to partner with universities to ensure that the next generation of power engineers is prepared for challenges in the field that include safety, grid modernization, and innovation.” Eisinger also is a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Board and will be honored as Chair of the College of Engineering's Design EXPO on May 1. The donation “will bring some of the best technology in the industry into our labs and helps the department continue to provide one of the largest and most extensive power engineering programs, in terms of courses offered, in the United States,” said Brian Johnson, power engineering professor and chair of electrical engineering. “This will give us capabilities that very few schools anywhere have. Coupled with the proximity of experts in the field – like POWER Engineers – who can give input and feedback, this provides a significant advantage for our students,” Johnson said. “The power engineering program at the University of Idaho has been part of the electrical engineering department since its inception and has a strong reputation as a power program throughout the region.” The need for advancing the educational environment of power engineering programs is becoming increasingly urgent as the nation is experiencing a shortage of power engineers. Demand for engineers who work on the generation, distribution and transmission of electrical power is expected to grow from 150,000 positions to 175,000 in 2010, according to a report commissioned by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology. “Supporting the university system and future electrical engineers is vital to the nation and also to POWER Engineers,” said Eisinger. “The University of Idaho is one of our top schools in terms of employee recruitment. This donation allows us to continue a strong relationship with the University of Idaho, encourage advancement of future engineers, and provide a state-of-the-art laboratory that can be found at only a handful of universities in the U.S. It will be the only facility of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.” "The gift from POWER Engineers advances the college's commitment to programs that foster research excellence,” said Don Blackketter, dean of the College of Engineering. “Through varied programs at all levels, the college is creating a pipeline of engineering and technology experts, beginning in the state’s middle schools and extending beyond graduate studies. We are tremendously appreciative of this generous commitment and look forward to continuing our friendship with exceptional alumni like Bill Eisinger and industry leaders like POWER Engineers." POWER Engineers also will provide an annual payment of $10,000 for operation, and maintenance of the new facility. The simulator can be connected directly to power system control and protection equipment, allowing for more thorough testing and training because the user is able to subject the equipment to many realistic conditions. For more information about the University of Idaho's engineering programs, which have been producing a legacy of leaders for more than 100 years, visit www.engr.uidaho.edu.
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About the University of Idaho Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu. About POWER Engineers, Inc. POWER Engineers is a consulting engineering firm specializing in energy, facilities and communications. POWER Engineers recently was ranked as Idaho’s largest engineering firm, is consistently ranked in the top 100 largest engineering firms in the US, and is headquartered in Hailey, Idaho. Founded in 1976, POWER Engineers is an employee-owned company, totaling 1100 employees, with 21 with offices throughout the U.S. and abroad. For more information, visit www.powereng.com. Media Contacts: Leah Andrews, University of Idaho College of Engineering, (208) 885-7978, leah@uidaho.edu; or Leanne Anderson, POWER Engineers, (208) 720-7118 leanderson@powereng.com



About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.