Power and Energy Systems
This area of electrical engineering focuses on devices and systems that process and deliver electric energy. It includes the broad topics of electromechanics, design and operation of large electric power and energy systems, magnetic and electric energy conversion methods, the application of electronic devices at high power levels, and alternative energy. Courses in this area cover concepts such as renewable electric energy systems, electric machines, power transmission and distribution, transformers, electronic motor controllers, and switching power converters. The physics of these devices as well as their mathematical models are studied and used to predict the behavior of the devices and to design systems that use them. Other courses in the area examine the overall performance of large systems. An example is the electric power system in North America, which consists of billions of power devices, and which must be analyzed and controlled for safe, consistent, reliable operation under all possible conditions. Operators of large power systems need tools to explore "what if..." questions and then plan to react in cases of failure. This is called reliability assessment. Additional applications of devices and electromagnetic fields are studied in advanced courses. Solar electric panels, hybrid cars, electronic motor controllers, computer power supplies, and backup power units are common applications of power electronics. Rapid advances in computer technology have made it possible to apply parallel processing techniques to large system simulation. The development and integration of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are producing broad challenges and opportunities. The fast pace of change will continue to challenge engineers in this field.
Potential employers for graduates with an interest in this area include operators and builders of large power systems, such as electric utilities and large engineering consulting firms; manufacturers of power equipment, including wind turbines, motors, and power supplies; manufacturers and users of power semiconductors and other power electronics equipment including solar photovoltaic systems; manufacturers and users of robots, electronic controls, and transportation equipment; and industries which are large electricity consumers, such as the metals industry, automobile industry, oil industry, data industry, and others. These major industries dominate the global economy.
Courses in the Power and Energy Systems area cover the analysis concepts and devices of electromechanics, large electric power and energy systems, magnetic and electric energy conversion, and the application of electronic devices at high power levels.
Suggested Area Core Electives (including laboratory courses)
ECE 333 - Green Electric Energy (requires ECE 210) 3 hr.
An overview course of renewable electric energy sources including wind turbines, solar cells and systems, and the integration of such renewable energy systems into the existing electric power grid.
ECE 330 - Power Circuits and Electromechanics (requires ECE 210) 3 hr.
The introductory course in three-phase circuits, transformers, and electromagnetic energy conversion also introduces rotating machines and electromechanical system analysis.
ECE 431 - Electric Machinery (requires ECE 330) 4 hr.
The general course in power devices, including transformers, motors, and generators. A laboratory is included. Normally offered only in the spring.
ECE 464 - Power Electronics (requires ECE 342 ) 3 hr.
The general course in switching power converters. A laboratory course intended to complement this course, ECE 469, is described below. Normally offered only in the fall.
ECE 469 - Power Electronics Laboratory (requires ECE 343 and credit or registration in ECE 464) 2 hr.
A lab course which complements ECE 464, and extends the treatment of power electronics applications. Normally offered only in the fall.
ECE 476 - Power System Analysis (requires ECE 330) 3 hr.
A general course in electric power systems, including modeling and analysis of power system components and large nonlinear ac networks. Normally offered only in the fall.
ECE 307 - Techniques for Engineering Decisions (requires requires ECE 210 and credit or concurrent registration in ECE 313) 3 hr.
This course is aimed at providing the skills and techniques for solving some typical problems faced in making engineering decisions in industry and government. The focus is on analytic schemes and systematic methodologies for making decisions with explicit consideration of the economic aspects. Normally offered only in the spring.