University of Central Florida Creates Microgrid Control Lab to Train Students

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The University of Central Florida (UCF) today unveiled a microgrid control lab that will allow students to simulate and test real-life grid control operations, including finding ways to optimize and secure grids in the future. 

microgrid control lab

Photo courtesy of GE Digital

The lab aims for safe, reliable, efficient and secure operation of large-scale distribution networks with extremely high penetration of renewables, a growing area in the energy industry. By collaborating with industry and utility partners, UCF sees the lab as a way to offer students real-world opportunities as they prepare to go into careers shaping the future. 

More than 1,400 UCF undergraduate and graduate students now study electrical or computer engineering, which supports energy systems and electricity grids. Another 500-plus have indicated they plan to pursue an electrical or computer engineering major. UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a power and renewable energy track as part of its undergraduate program.  Students can earn a graduate certificate in sustainable and resilient energy systems. 

GE Digital is co-sponsoring the lab with Florida Power & Light (FPL).

“GE Digital and FPL have been both philanthropic investors in this lab, ensuring our students in this field will be industry-ready on day one of their careers,” said UCF President Alexander Cartwright. “It’s a win-win. Our students get a leading education in a lab environment, and both companies open up a pipeline of incredible talent for their workforce.”

“The Microgrid Control Lab provides access to a modern grid that enables some of the brightest young minds in the country to collaborate, learn and help reimagine the energy grid of tomorrow,” said Jim Walsh, general manager of GE Digital’s grid software business. 

FPL and GE Digital together have about 400 UCF alumni in their workforces.

“We are excited to bring this innovative research space to UCF engineering students,” said Ed De Varona, FPL’s vice president of transmission and substation. “The lab is a terrific training ground for rising engineers to work directly with the latest technologies and help refine and innovate the way energy is transmitted and distributed across the grid now and in the future.”

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