The Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation at Illinois Institute of Technology is a major university initiative for intruding practical technologies that can improve the resilience, reliability, security, efficiency, and sustainability of the nation's electrical grid and overcome obstacles to the effective adoption and implementation of the Smart Grid. The Center brings together researchers, industry, government, and innovators to "plug-in" to IIT's smart microgrid, research laboratories and technology park, creating a hub - or sandbox - for new innovations in advanced grid technology.
In January 2012, the Galvin Center completed and moved into a new, state-of-the-art facility designed to house, microgrid research, demonstration and education activities. Located on the 16th floor of the IIT Tower, the 16,000-square-foot facility contains offices, exhibition rooms, classrooms and student workrooms, acting as a hands-on experience center for Smart Grid, microgrid and energy technology and education. The $4 million renovation project was funded by the State of Illinois, U.S. Department of Energy and IIT.
Smart Grid Education and Training at IIT
The Galvin Center is home to the Smart Grid Workforce Education and Training Center - a $12.6 million project, which was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Illinois, to educate and train the nation's workforce to meet the global challenges and opportunities of the Smart Grid. This initiative established processes to educate and train more than 49,000 people on Smart Grid and new energy topics over the course of three years, developing new curriculum through a network of partners, from K-12 programs to community colleges, university degree programs, and industry professional development short courses.
The Galvin Center released a report outlining the skill deficiencies of the existing workforce to meet the demands and needs of the Smart Grid economy of the future. The technologies and systems introduced through Smart Grid initiatives require highly-trained and flexible workforce to fully realize the smart grid promise. The workforce is vital to deploying and maintaining the national clean energy-smart grid infrastructure. Growing and training the smart grid workforce is possible if the Smart Grid industry commits to intensive, sophisticated, and integrated workforce development initiatives.
Workforce Training and Education
The energy industry is at a tipping point - facing a paradigm shift in the way that energy is produced, delivered and used. Increased demand for power has put a strain on the aging infrastructure of the United States power grid, causing it to become increasingly overloaded and unstable. Reorienting the nation's urban and energy infrastructure around platforms of efficiency, sustainability, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions represents perhaps the greatest engine for innovation, job creation, and economic productivity growth in coming decades.
In June 2011, the Galvin Center released a landmark report outlining the skill deficiencies of the existing workforce to meet the demands and needs of the Smart Grid economy of the future. The report found that the technologies and systems introduced through Smart Grid initiatives will require a new, highly-trained and flexible workforce to fully realize the smart grid promise. The future workforce will be vital to deploying and maintaining this national clean-energy smart grid infrastructure. Growing and training the smart grid workforce will only be possible if the industry commits to intensive, sophisticated, and integrated workforce-development initiatives.
To address this critical issue, the Galvin Center is undertaking a $12.6 million project, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Illinois, to educate and train the nation's workforce to meet the global challenges and opportunities of the smart grid. Current course offerings include:
Education at the University Level
As smart grid technologies are introduced and two-way communication becomes enabled, the need for smart grid-related engineering education will be pressing.
The work for smart grid curriculum development through the IIT Smart Grid Education and Workforce Training Center has already begun. Beginning in the Fall Semester of 2010, two graduate level smart grid classes (ECE 581- Elements of Smart Grid and ECE 580- Elements of Sustainable Energy) have been offered with the development of others ongoing. Curriculum to be developed includes both graduate and undergraduate level courses.
Early Smart Grid Education
With more than 400,000 students in more than 600 elementary and high schools, CPS is the third largest school district in the country. The CPS student population is 91% minority and over 75% live at or below the poverty threshold.
IIT has established a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to train high school teachers via down-to-earth courses, workshops, and webinars on smart grid, plug-in hybrid cars, and sustainable energy topics.
One of the top priorities in CPS and the City of Chicago is to provide unique learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. To help CPS accomplish that goal, IIT, in partnership with Siemens Industry, Inc., hosts and supports an innovative eight week summer program for CPS students who are residents of the Chicago Housing Authority.
Curriculum focuses on training students in smart grid and sustainability issues that prepare students to transition easily to post-secondary study at a community college or university and entry into the workforce.
Smart Grid Education for the Public and Others
The center is providing various webinars on various topics including smart grid, sustainability, electric vehicles, wind energy generation, and others. These webinars will be available through the channels of education through the center and also for general public education and awareness.
Community college members of the Galvin Center are collaborating with IIT to develop and offer certificate courses and pre-engineering courses on smart grid that will prepare students for transferring seamlessly to IIT to complete a four-year degree program on smart grid. The Galvn Center's philosophy maintains a strong focus on encouraging more American, women, and minority, students to pursue engineering degrees and careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
This collaborative process will provide diverse opportunities for community colleges to work with the Center, including assisting the Center in understanding the training needs of students at Community Colleges; collaborating with the Center to create curriculum and certificate programs for Community College students; working with IIT to create 2+2 articulation programs to facilitate student transition to IIT to pursue a four year or graduate degree program; and collaborating with the smart grid Center on creating workshops and webinars.
The Galvin Center offers three- to five-day short courses throughout the year on smart grid technologies, including delivering tailored education programs created to meet the specific needs of participating corporate and Labor Union partners. Many of the jobs impacted by smart grid energy efficiency initiatives are occupations that have significant labor participation: electricians, carpenters, sheet metal workers, HVAC, and transportation workers. The Center enjoys the support of the major Labor Unions in the Midwest region as well as the umbrella organizations that represent them, including the AFL-CIO, the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council.