UCF unveils new microgrid control lab as training for students

You probably don’t spend too much time thinking about the electricity that keeps your house running – unless you’re looking at a bill.

It’s something University of Central Florida (UCF) leaders are thinking about though. The school recently unveiled its new state-of-the-art microgrid control lab on campus. 

The lab was powered up during a ceremony Tuesday in partnership with Florida Power Light and General Electric.

"The challenge is always that gap between what you've learned in school, in classes" said Kwasi Opoku, electrical engineering doctoral student. "Compared to what's in the field." 

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There won’t be a difference when students work in this lab. They are using the software systems used by the companies that keep Florida running, like the Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS). Students can use that software to practice solving real-world problems. 

This is important for the rest of us because these are the future engineers who will operate the power grid to make sure you can cut on the lights at home.

Students will also be the ones getting electricity running again after major weather events.

"So, when you turn the switch on, the power is there and it's stable," said Dr. Zhihua Qu, Professor of Computer and Electrical Engineering at UCF. "We want it to be resilient even during the worst weather like hurricanes."

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Professors said that these are also the future engineers who are training to fortify the power grid to make sure it’s safe from hackers and they will use the lab to explore solar and other renewable energy. 

UCF said about 1,400 undergrad and grad students are studying electrical or computer engineering. Upwards of 500 students have indicated that they plan to pursue one of those degrees once they finish pre-requisite courses. 

GE Digital also announced a new internship program that will offer UCF students an intensive experience in utilities and power sectors. 

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.