Train students at the intersection of energy engineering and computer science – WSU Insider

A WSU research team has received a $ 1.2 million grant from the United States Department of Education to train graduate students in the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI), science of data and engineering to meet the challenges of the future power grid.

Led by Assefaw Gebremedhin, Associate Professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate Assistance Grant in Areas of National Need (GAANN) aims to improve teaching and research in areas of national need .

Assefaw Gebremedhin

“AI and the closely related field of data science affect almost everything we do,” Gebremedhin said. “We need electrical engineers who speak both languages ​​- who are trained to be good electrical engineers and who are also able to do good data science. “

In recent years, the U.S. electricity grid has rapidly evolved from a network of centralized generation plants powered by fossil fuels to one that includes more distributed generation and renewable resources. As power becomes more decentralized, traditional ideas about power grid operations have changed.

Distributed assets need to be controlled and managed differently than in the past.

Climate change is also leading to an increase in extreme weather events, which means the power system must be more resilient and operate under rapidly changing conditions, Gebremedhin explains. Technological developments also allow customers to become more actively and directly involved in controlling their energy consumption.

“These rapid transformations threaten the reliability of the electricity grid,” he said.

The US power industry is increasingly adopting machine learning and data analytics technologies to improve reliability, resiliency and efficiency.

Meanwhile, software developed in the energy sector as well as in many other engineering applications is becoming more and more complex. Software engineers of the future would not only need to know how to create and maintain complex software, but they would also need to know how to extract knowledge from massive amounts of data and adapt that knowledge to take into account different human factors. .

Under the grant, eight US doctoral students will receive training focused on the application of AI and data science to energy engineering and software engineering.

“The new workforce must be trained in traditional subjects of electrical and energy engineering, while having an understanding of data science and machine learning, information and communication technologies, as well as control and automation, ”he said.

With programs in energy engineering, machine learning and AI, and software engineering, the School of EECS offers a unique opportunity to bridge the fields of computer science and energy engineering.

“There are only a few schools in the country where you have these disciplines hosted in the same school, which is a great asset,” he said.

Anamika Dubey
Venera Arnaoudova
Christmas Schulz

The three-year program will focus on recruiting students from under-represented groups in engineering and computer science, including women, black and Hispanic students. In addition to Gebremedhin, the program is led by three female faculty members in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Anamika Dubey, Venera Arnaoudova, and Noel Schulz. Students will receive training in teaching and mentoring and will also have the opportunity to participate in internships through the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

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