The BCIT Smart Grid Lab, designed to teach courses in the area of electrical power and industrial control, is one of the most recently updated labs in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology (ECET) department at BCIT. This unique lab space was designed to bridge the gap between traditional and modern equipment seen in electrical power grids in BC and across the world.
Providing hands-on training to support power grids of the future
The ECET program curriculum is reviewed regularly to consider the changes that are looming in industry. The latest being the need to capture the theory and practice associated with the modernization of the power grid. The Smart Grid Lab reflected this.
Infrastructure and equipment in the Smart Grid Lab are in line to what is seen in the global electrical power sector, configured in an accessible way for teaching students about the devices that are connected to the grid (motors, generators) while also supporting courses that study the operation of the Smart Grid itself (protection, control and communications based on the IEC 61850 standard).
What is the Smart Grid?
Consider it to be a “digitization” of the infrastructure already in place for the distribution of electric power to customers. A smart grid combines this existing infrastructure with new technologies that improve power quality, flexibility, and efficiency.
Jeff Bloemink is a faculty in the ECET department at BCIT. He has been an integral part of the development of this lab.
“Adoption of smart grid systems and technologies are a key enabling factor to support of large quantities of renewable energy integration into the electrical utility,” explaind Jeff. “The lab is an important part of the decarbonisation of the electric utility sector.”
Partnering learners and industry for future workforce success
Together with industry partner Siemens Canada, BCIT recognized the need to be forward thinking in our curriculum. Generous support from Siemens Canada, which included both equipment donation and industry expertise, helped BCIT Faculty make appropriate updates to the curriculum and the Smart Grid Lab.
“Siemens Canada is committed to supporting the next generation of engineers. BCIT and Siemens have worked to jointly develop a system that will address multiple protection and control applications with a flexible and dynamically configurable system. The focus of the Lab is to ensure knowledge transfer that is hands-on and future proof. This is a true testament to Siemens mission – Ingenuity for Life!” said Michael Hempel, Key Account Manager, Smart Infrastructure at Siemens Canada.
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With climate change as a concern, electrification of many industries, including energy and transport, is the future. An electrical engineer or technologist is a good place to be and the laboratory will be constantly evolving as the curriculum keeps pace to the changes being rolled out in this sector.