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Renewable energy fuels Pitt studies in power engineering

After nearly a decade’s decline of student interest in power system engineering, William Stanchina, Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, says that students are delving into the field with enthusiasm for renewable energy sources. They are responding to a curriculum revised for interdisciplinary approaches and input from a broad segment of energy industry viewpoints, according to Stanchina.

“It’s a great time to be an engineer,” Stanchina told a group of European, Canadian, and western Pennsylvania journalists during a visit organized by the Allegheny Conference. He acknowledged the last decade’s relative lack of investment in power engineering research and went on to outline a wide range of topics he believes will yield large gains for energy conservation, the addition of clean generation to the national power grid, and the capture of substantial amounts of power wasted across the long lines that deliver power from generators to consumers of electricity.

Power system engineers need to imagine a much larger scale of potential research objectives, Stanchina says. He cites a recent Texas Instruments study, which concluded that economic returns from conservation technologies applied to existing power resources would be higher than those from additions to new generation sources.

Such findings speak to current levels of waste across the nation’s transmission and distribution networks. Technologies, such as micro-cells and electronic controls, can address these issues by creating efficiency and economy in power distribution, creating smarter controls for networks in neighborhoods, commercial districts, and residential and office buildings.

Source: William Stanchina, Gregory Reed, University of Pittsburgh
Writer: Joseph Plummer

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