BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new joint effort by the University at Buffalo
and Buffalo State College will improve green jobs training for
undergraduate and graduate students at both institutions as part of
a federally funded program to transform the electrical grid into a
The courses, which will likely be offered by UB and Buffalo
State starting in the fall, will leverage each schools' strengths
and expertise, and will be delivered online to students from the
other consortium institutions, as well as to industry personnel who
register for smart grid retraining.
"The laboratory and faculty resources available at any single
institution are relatively small and are not by themselves
sufficient to educate a required number of smart grid personnel,
but when viewed as a united front, together they provide
unparalleled capability and expertise," says Mohammed Safiuddin,
PhD, research professor emeritus of electrical engineering in the
UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and UB principal
By synchronizing the teaching of topics in electrical power
systems engineering fields related to the construction of a smart
grid, UB and Buffalo State are improving the quality of education,
boosting graduates' chances of finding jobs while also lowering the
cost of education and training for students.
The partnership between UB and Buffalo State is part of a larger
consortium headed by Syracuse University and including the
University at Rochester, Clarkson University and Onondaga Community
College, part of the Strategic Training and Education in Power
Systems (STEPS) program of the U.S. Department of Energy.
In spring 2010, the consortium received a $3 million grant from
the DOE to implement the STEPS program, which is designed to
quickly train a workforce for smart grid development by reducing
redundancy and allowing students to travel between participating
campuses for access to the most advanced technologies.
"While this approach is contrary to the traditional model where
each institution hoards its own resources, our institutions are
committed to overcoming bureaucratic obstacles to help address the
expected nationwide shortage of smart grid practitioners and
developers," says Safiuddin. His Buffalo State partner is Ilya
Grinberg, PhD, professor of technology at Buffalo State and the
Buffalo State principal investigator; he is an adjunct professor of
electrical engineering at UB.
Students at any of the institutions can, on occasion, visit any
of the other consortium institutions to complete coursework or
projects at a specific laboratory or smart grid installation.
"UB and Buffalo State decided to pool our respective schools'
portions of the funding to build a smart grid laboratory at Buffalo
State," says Grinberg. Both UB and Buffalo State students will be
able to use the lab, which will help train students to create and
maintain a smart grid.
"The lab will be used as a major training and experimental
facility not just for students, but also for the power system
professionals and local equipment manufacturers," Safiuddin says,
noting that Esensors Inc., a UB startup company based in Amherst,
is now using the Buffalo State lab for calibration of their newly
developed Smart Power Meters.
"We need to address existing skills shortages and the aging
workforce in the power industry," Grinberg says. "It is therefore
critical that training of the current workforce and the education
of a new cadre of power engineering professionals be addressed
through a joint effort."
In addition to the technologies traditionally associated with
power grid construction, the program also standardizes courses,
teaching materials and practices in fields such as advanced
measurements and sensing technologies, signal processing and
telecommunications, adaptive control, cyber security techniques and
energy efficiency, as well as policy and economics.
"This approach optimizes the distributed nature of our faculty
resources, with institutions complementing each other rather than
duplicating the coursework," says Grinberg. "To the best of my
knowledge, this would be the first time that such a strategy will
be followed using as many as six academic institutions, with
tremendous flexibility and student choices, making the prospect of
developing the new generation of smart grid engineers a reality
rather than a dream."
Buffalo State, a SUNY liberal arts college located in Buffalo's
Elmwood Village, offers degrees in education, art, science and
professional studies. Each year, over 12,000 students choose
Buffalo State for its broad array of high-quality and distinctive
academic programs, diverse and creative environment, hands-on
learning opportunities, affordable SUNY tuition and location in the
heart of Buffalo's cultural corridor.