What is the best way to build an AC/DC hybrid power system? What does the power grid control system of the future look like?
Those are the types of questions researchers and students at the University of Pittsburgh are hoping to answer with Thursday’s opening of a new electric power systems lab.
The lab was created with the support of the Dublin, Ireland-based power management company EATON, which has offices in the Pittsburgh area.
“Finding engineers and finding people with the power background — rather than with electronics — was becoming a greater challenge not just for EATON but for the industry,” said EATON Vice President Dave Bucklew.
Bucklew hopes to be able to tap into the potential pipeline of graduates coming out of the lab.
University of Pittsburgh Power Institute Director Dr. Gregory Reed said the lab is packed with the latest equipment that can be popped in and out of a micro grid that will allow the students to better understand how different conditions impact the system.
Reed believes Pitt is one of the nation’s top universities for emerging DC systems, and he believes the lab will allow the school to attract new students, increased government grants and additional corporate partnerships.
“It also give our students a tremendous opportunity to have hands on capabilities and experience to augment the theory they learn in the classroom,” Reed said.
The lab is built with a modular design with the goal of being able to swap out equipment as technology changes.
“A lot of what we develop in the lab will become part of the lab in the future,” Reed said.
Bucklew said often university labs are outfitted with equipment that has been donated because it is outdated. “To have a lab like this with the latest technology is very unique and I think it really does become a great recruiting too for the university,” said Bucklew.