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Power to the People — Who Major in Engineering

The electrical engineering department has introduced a new concentration for students who plan to go in the electrical power industry, where the demands of a changing field offer a strong employment outlook.

With a bubble in the number of retirements in the power industry, few college degree opportunities and emerging technologies for the renewable energy field, the time is right to start a concentration, said Jack Adams, associate professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering.

“It’s a very good job market now,” Adams said. “There is a lot of need for power engineers.”

Power engineering is a growing field for the first time in decades. The power industry has relied on a national transmission grid using the same technology for decades, and once jobs in the field were filled, there were few opportunities for young engineers. Colleges and universities shut down their programs because there was so little demand.

Times are changing, Adams said. A wave of engineers within the power industry are approaching retirement age, and the country is shifting its paradigm from a national grid to a regional model that takes advantage of renewable energies using modern technologies.

“There are changing technologies and changing needs,” he said.

This year’s sophomores are the first students eligible to qualify for a concentration in power engineering. To earn a concentration in power engineering, students need to take two advanced electives in power-oriented courses and orient their senior design project toward the power industry, Adams said.