Portland State University and its Center for Public Service has been offering the first graduate level course on the smart grid in the country since 2009. Developed by a team from PSU and Portland General Electric and underwritten by PGE, Intel, and Veris Industries, this course, called Designing the Smart Grid for Sustainable Communities, has been widely praised for its innovative features.

For example, the course:
• Is designed to serves both graduate students and mid-career energy professionals, with both graduate credit and certificate of completion options. Typically, about two-thirds of the students already work in the energy industry.
• Is taught by a multi-disciplinary faculty team that includes both university faculty and industry professionals.
• Brings in experts from parts of the country that are ahead of the Northwest on certain aspects of the smart grid and such related topics as controllable loads and demand response, distributed generation, renewables integration, and storage. These experts advise us on “lessons learned” the Northwest should consider as we prepare our smart grid implementation strategies.
• Offers a cross-disciplinary approach using small group learning communities that deepens individual areas of expertise in the context of teamwork.

In previous years, class participants have mainly come from organizations and companies within a 90-minute drive of Portland. They have included senior and mid- level employees of BPA, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, investor-owned and consumer-owned utilities, PNNL, NEEA, Energy Trust of Oregon, Oregon PUC, other state agencies, Metro, the City of Portland, consumer and environmental advocacy organizations, high tech, IT, and smart grid companies, engineering, planning and architectural firms, plus numerous energy efficiency and renewable resource organizations and consulting firms.

At the request of several Northwest utilities, PSU has agreed to make this course available through distance learning options (video conference, live stream and media archive) to utilities and other interested parties throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. PSU’s winter term class is currently being offered to professionals at Snohomish Public Utilities, the City of Ashland, and Idaho State University.

According to Jeff Hammarlund, lead faculty for the course, PSU would like to make the spring term class available to other parties, especially those who are PNCECE partners. In fact, PSU is exploring the possibility of offering a tuition discount for PNCECE partners.

The spring term course runs Thursdays from 6:30 – 9:40 pm, April 4 through June 13. It will conclude with a small conference and party to allow all class participates throughout the region to meet. Students do not need to have taken the winter term course to benefit from the spring term one. For more information including how to participate through distance learning, click here.