6th Energy Symposium on Renewable Power Challenges

Keynote speaker Wanda Reder has 29 years of experience in the electric utility industry
September 28, 2016

WPI’s sixth annual Energy Symposium, to be held tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 29, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Rubin Campus Center Odeum), will address the challenges associated with upgrading the electric power delivery system with renewable power generation.

“Upgrading the Grid with Renewables for a Sustainable Future” is designed to stimulate current students to consider careers in the industry and share progress in building a pipeline of well-qualified, diverse people to lead the industry in the future.

Each year, this symposium brings together representatives from government, electric utilities, independent electric system operators, manufacturers, contract firms, and educational organizations, along with interested students, to learn about the educational implications of current developments in the electric power industry.

Keynote speaker Wanda Reder

Wanda Reder, chief strategy officer for S&C Electric Co. in Chicago and a candidate for president-elect of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2017, will deliver the keynote address. She has served on the IEEE Governing Board and the IEEE Foundation Board; she is the founder IEEE PES Scholarship Plus Initiative, a program that has provided over 900 power engineering scholarships since 2011. She has 29 years of experience in the electric utility industry holding various leadership positions in power delivery. She also launched the IEEE Smart Grid, which now enjoys over 90,000 followers. 

Reder will discuss the need to modernize the power grid to accommodate more renewable energy sources and to be more resilient. S&C Electric Co. is a leading global manufacturer of electrical switching, protection, and control equipment. Founded in 1911, the company is pioneering the design of new smart microgrids.

The opening address will be delivered by Matt Beaton ’00, Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Areas of focus for each year’s symposium are chosen by the Energy Strategy Board, composed of industry leaders interested in specialized graduate education. Mike Ahern, director of power systems within WPI’s Corporate and Professional Education division, said that National Grid has asked WPI to host these symposiums to identify the education and training needs of the power industry over the next five years and beyond.

“WPI is the top power engineering educator in the region and one of the top educators in the nation,” says Ahern. "Right now, we have over 150 students taking our graduate power engineering courses. Over the last three years, we have educated students from 31 states and six other countries. Our undergraduate courses are surging with strong student enrollment. At the same time, we're performing important research, especially in the area of adding battery energy storage to power grids."

This year’s symposium will conclude with a panel hosted by the Worcester CleanTech Incubator and moderated by its executive director, Joe Bush ’04. The incubator’s mission is to foster the growth of new enterprises to address the most pressing issues of our time.