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Preparing the U.S. Foundation for Future Electric Energy Systems: A Strong Power and Energy Engineering Workforce

New state and national policies are advancing actions to address environmental concerns, and in-crease energy independence and security. These affect economic growth and stability, and are likely to direct major technology investments to:

1. Create a Smart Grid to make use of computer, sensor, automation, control, and communication technologies
2. Achieve large-scale penetration of Renewable and Alternative Energy technologies
3. Maintain U.S. Electric Power Grid Reliability when integrating sources of renewable generation with traditional generation technologies
4. Improve Energy Efficiency in delivery and use
5. Enable the public to use Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles to reduce oil consumption, reduce carbon emissions, and store energy for support of the electric system.

The National Academy of Engineering hailed the electric power grid as the 20th century’s engineering innovation most beneficial to our civilization. The 21st century electric power grid may be recognized again for efforts to connect new and old electricity generation sources to transmission, distribution, customer meters, and customer end-uses. The power grid is being transformed by innovations that draw on technology advances in different fields to meet new societal needs and public policies.

Throughout this transformation, customer expectations for electric power reli¬ability will remain high. Few people doubt that, when they flip the switch, the power will be on. Aging trends in the electrical engineering workforce and in existing infrastructure will make it difficult to meet these reliability ex¬pectations unless action is taken today. Engineering workforce shortages are already occurring. We need more electrical engineers to solve industry challenges, and to build that 21st century electric power grid. We need more electrical engineers to keep the nation’s electric power reliable, secure, safe, and competitive. Meeting these needs requires long-term investment now.

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