The generation, distribution, and use of electric energy are undergoing dramatic changes. The production of energy from distributed renewable sources, which has grown more competitive as a result of falling costs and of policy support, is challenging some of the ways national grids have traditionally operated. Energy sources and loads increasingly have controllable power electronic interfaces and can be equipped with smart control and operated in Internet of Things configurations. Furthermore, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles are projected to gain significant market shares in the next decade, as they reach cost parity with their gas-powered counterparts.
Existing and upcoming energy-system challenges can be addressed by smart control, secure communication, and distributed sensing, as well as advances in power-conversion configurations and devices. Columbia’s EE department, which is at the forefront of electric energy systems, is introducing a research area and an MS concentration in smart electric energy. The newly established programs are designed to achieve technical breakthroughs through research and the education of engineering leaders in the area of smart electric energy.
The smart electric energy research area focuses on the generation, conversion, distribution, and consumption of electric energy, as well as the electrification of energy systems. Research spans the analysis, design, and control of power electronics, motor drives, and energy storage systems; grid resilience and security; and the Internet of Things. Applications include transportation electrification, the smart grid, renewable energy, and smart building systems.
The MS concentration in smart electric energy starts in Fall 2018. Course offerings include technical topics such as power electronics, modern control theory, and energy infrastructure planning, as well as energy-economics and policy topics, such as alternative energy resources, electricity markets, and global energy policy. Graduates will be well prepared for jobs in renewable energy, power systems, automotive engineering, aerospace engineering, and home appliances. A range of course offerings is open to senior undergraduate students who are interested in electric energy-related topics.