Regents Prof. Ned Mohan at ECE Spring 2023 Colloquium
Developing a Robust Workforce in Electric Power Engineering by Democratizing Technical Education
Just as we are facing an unprecedented climate crisis, the United States is simultaneously facing an educational crisis in the electric power sector. This rapidly growing series of industries is widely believed to be crucial to addressing our environmental challenges, as well as associated national security concerns. Study after study over the past decade has concluded that expanding the U.S. transmission grid will play a key role in decarbonizing the country’s electricity system. Charting the $2.5 trillion pathway to a zero-carbon US economy, as a variety of studies have shown, would require a massive workforce of electric power engineers. Hundreds of thousands need to be trained over the next five to ten years. Yet, along with the need for more engineers comes a demographic shift—a declining number of students graduating from high schools will begin in 2025. To address the need for students, we urgently need to motivate and incentivize young people—many of whom are deeply passionate about the environment and concerned about combating climate change. If we can interest students early in their lives in the benefits of electrical power and the need for improvement of our electrical infrastructure, we can show them how to direct their passions into meaningful, secure, and financially rewarding careers. Continuing the work, we’ve already begun at the University of Minnesota, we propose to jumpstart a national network of Centers for Electric Power Engineering Education to promote a multi-prong approach to creating a robust workforce in electric power engineering.
This presentation will describe our proposed approach where that democratizing technical education allows us to bring it to tribal and rural communities who otherwise would not have access to it, as well as to historically and systemically marginalized urban communities. Another vital component of this proposal is the international dissemination of information and educational resources since these challenges are not limited to the United States. Most importantly, this is more than a presentation; rather, it is meant to be a dialog to solicit your input as we proceed in this uncharted territory.
About Regents Professor Ned Mohan
Ned Mohan is a Regents Professor in the ECE department at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, where he has been teaching for the past forty-seven years. He is a member of the U.S. and the Indian National Academies of Engineering, and was recently awarded the IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Educational medal. His six textbooks have been translated into a total of nine languages. His research is at the interface of power electronics and power systems, and he is incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to graduate fifty-two PhDs to date.