Funded by a major Nation Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Energy Research Center grant, the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electrical Energy Transmission Networks, or CURENT, seeks to meet the national and international energy sector needs for a skilled power systems workforce. CURENT performs research that addresses problems of the electric power system, with a focus on transmission, monitoring, and control of a modernized electric grid with high levels of renewable generation. Through partnerships with education institutions, government agencies, public and private research groups and industry, CURENT’s approach includes, education, entrepreneurship research and community outreach. CURENT was established in 2011 and involves 11 UT faculty members, 16 partner university faculty members and eight affiliate researchers, as well as 93 UT grads and 1,141 students from other partnering schools and institutions.
Community partners include EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute), Tennessee Valley Association, Industry Partners through the U.S. and World, Knox County Schools, Tennessee GearUp, STEMspark, 4-H, Boys & Girls Club of East Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Rensselaer Polytechnic University, Northeastern University, Tuskegee University, and industry partners through the U.S. and world. Partners at the University of Tennessee include the College of Engineering, the Office of Equity and Diversity, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS).
The University of Tennessee benefits greatly from CURENT’s student exchanges and research collaborations with partner universities and research centers. CURENT facilitates the development of new courses, concentrations and certificate programs at UT and provides research experiences for visiting undergraduates. Industry partners provide projects for graduate student research. CURENT’s ambassador program to local schools allows undergraduate students to take leadership roles that re-enforce their own learning. An impact program increases graduate student innovation, entrepreneurialism, and communication skills, while K-12 outreach and visiting undergraduate research programs promotes greater communication and education skills. These programs help provide both UT and the larger community with a larger pool of prospective engineers.
Impact on Community
CURENT’s impacts on the external community are broad in scope. CURENT provides funded research experiences for visiting undergraduates from other institutions, while high school students pursue their personal interests in engineering research through CURENT’s Young Scholar Program, and local K-12 school teachers are provided with training and materials to implement energy and power concepts in the classroom through a Research Experience for Teachers program. Young women are encouraged to pursue engineering degrees through the Middle School Girls STEM Camp, while families are engaged in learning through annual Family Engineering Night. Meanwhile, CURENT is training engineers to meet the needs of local industry, with a special focus on students from underrepresented communities in UT engineering programs. CURENT’s research projects result in new applied technologies that directly support the rapidly changing power and energy industry.
Related Feature: Plugging in to CURENT >>
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