An Office of Naval Research (ONR) supported enterprise brings sweeping changes to electric power & energy education at U.S. universities.
“The number of power engineers in the United States is dwindling just when the Navy and the country as a whole need them most,” said Dr. Peter Cho, a program officer in ONR’s Ship Systems and Engineering Research Division who is overseeing the project.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has used a set of aggressive goals to guide the service toward renewable power as well as electric ships and weapons. The new curriculum, which covers everything from power systems and electric drives to wind energy and electric grids, takes into account global trends in sustainability and renewable energy.
“Electricity is a critical element for every ship the Navy is building now,” Cho said. “Researchers are working on all-electric ships, hybrid drives and more, yet we are limited in the power engineering area.”
Cho is carrying on the tradition of recently retired ONR program officer Terry Ericsen, whose support of University of Minnesota electrical engineering professor Ned Mohan has led to the Consortium of Universities for Sustainable Power and the creation of videos, textbooks, tests, assignments and lab demos that will help bring the nation’s electric energy studies in line with current attitudes and practices.
Initial funding from the National Science Foundation allowed Mohan to hold early workshops on revising the curriculum as far back as 1990. ONR provided new funding for the project in 2006, and now more than 100 universities across the country have adopted Mohan’s curriculum.