With thousands of Americans still waiting to have their electrical power restored after super storm Sandy ravaged the nation’s east coast, the importance of a secure and reliable electrical delivery network, including smart grid technology, has never been more evident.

From left to right: Jacinda B. Woodward, TVA Vice President, Transmission Reliability & Ops, Energy Delivery; Interim Chancellor E. Grady Bogue; Dean Will Sutton, UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science

In an effort to promote workforce development for the Tennessee Valley and to support The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s educational mission, TVA made a presentation of $25,000 to UTC’s College of Engineering and Computer Science for research and course development in the areas of transmission grid modernization and data analytics. TVA’s Energy Delivery business unit plans to work closely with UTC to design course curricula, research projects, and internships that will allow UTC students a unique opportunity to help solve some of the challenges in operating and maintaining the bulk electric system.

“TVA is very pleased to have this opportunity to advance the skills of our workforce by partnering with The University of the Tennessee at Chattanooga,” said Jacinda Woodward, Vice President for Transmission Reliability and Operations for TVA. “We are proud to support the University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science through internships and course development that will strengthen our technical abilities and participate in research to advance TVA’s bulk electric system and transmission grid modernization in general. In keeping with our vision to be one of the nation’s leading providers of low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020, this partnership will provide both TVA and UTC the opportunity to meet future energy demands with new technologies and the skilled workforce needed for reliable, affordable power for the Tennessee Valley.”

A highly skilled workforce will be a critical success factor for managing an increasingly complex network of transmission lines, substations and telecommunications systems for the future.  This workforce will need capabilities in areas such as grid security, transmission system protection, and business intelligence through data management.  The partnership between TVA and the College of Engineering and Computer science will help meet these goals by improving the expertise of current employees and providing a pipeline of UTC graduates with a better knowledge of power systems, telecommunications, and related information technologies.

“All of us at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga greatly appreciate our long partnership with TVA, and we are especially thankful for this gift. Educating students to assume leadership roles in the power industry is critical to our academic mission as well as our role as a metropolitan university, and we could not succeed in this endeavor without the support of TVA,” said Dr. Grady Bogue, Interim Chancellor at UTC.

In 2010, UTC’s College of Engineering and Computer Science received an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for Developing and Enhancing Workforce Training Programs for the Electric Power Sector. Specifically, the focus on smart grid topics and U.S. grid modernization outlined in the grant proposal has created a unique opportunity for TVA’s Energy Delivery unit to partner with UTC. Students can become familiar TVA and its operations prior to graduation, and the TVA can identify prospective, highly-skilled employees.

750 TVA employees currently hold degrees from UTC, and at least 270 of them in engineering. As primarily an engineering organization, Energy Delivery has a valuable resource in UTC’s engineering and computer science programs which, through this DOE grant, offer direct engagement in the design of programs, certificates, short courses and other resources to serve the energy delivery human resource and research needs.

“Our relationship with TVA is crucial,” said Dr. Will Sutton, Dean of the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Our students benefit greatly from the opportunities that TVA provides. We are tremendously grateful for this partnership and support.”

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