Monday, January 3, 2011

Teaching the Old Grid New Tricks ...

... will require students versed in the art and science of engineering, including (but not limited to) electrical engineering. We used to say that in the future we'd need these folks. Well, with the recent passing of 2010, the future is beginning to look more and more like the present.

A present in which ...
A great deal depends on whether power companies can find and attract a sufficient number of engineers capable of designing, managing and maintaining the new systems the smart grid demands. And that’s by no means certain. The Center for Energy Workforce Development estimates that by 2015, 51 percent of the power-engineering workforce will need to be replaced because of retirement or attrition. And that’s just to maintain current levels. To drag our aging grid into the 21st century will require power engineers trained in the most sophisticated communications and control concepts.
Seems like the old immovable object about to be whacked by an irresistible force. In a tough job market, this much need can't and won't go unfulfilled for long.

This article quotes a manager at AEP as saying these vacant engineering roles will be filled by new personnel from one of three sources: re-trained internal folks, university programs and vendors. University investment in new teachers and courses has been constrained to say the least. Though the last word may belong to the DOE, which just slapped down a cool $100 million on the counter for Smart Grid training programs.

At the bottom of the article you may notice one reader asks "Just engineers?" The answer, of course, is of course not. Increasingly, folks with training in business and economics are called for as the old business models are poised for a most thorough revision.

And as for cyber security pro's to watch over the systems designed and built by the new crop of inspired engineers and business folks, they're going to likely come from vendors for a while longer, until organizations like SANS and the new NBISE can get a bunch more out the door with the requisite energy sector chops ... like a firm grounding in SCADA/ICS, for instance.

Photo credit: USAFA (my alma mater) graduation by Beverly & Pack on

No comments: