Bangladesh electric board looks to WSU to expand expertise

By Alyssa Patrick, College of Engineering & Architecture

BangladeshAvistaTour-150PULLMAN, Wash. – A group from Bangladesh traveled halfway across the world to learn to better develop electrification in their country from Washington State University experts in power engineering.

“We are working for the villagers,” said Abdul Aziz, executive engineer with his country’s Rural Electrification Board (REB), whose members will spend several weeks in Pullman. “We are learning methods at WSU that will help us bring the villagers better service and an improved distribution system.”

Without the REB and other electricity boards, the agriculture-based rural communities would not have electricity, he said.

WSU selected as trainer

Bangladesh visitors tour Avista.

The REB is one of five government agencies in Bangladesh responsible for electricity distribution, but the REB specializes in bringing electricity to rural areas. About 50 managers   of the REB are taking courses at WSU for three to six weeks thanks to funding from Training and Technology Transfer, an international development organization based in New Zealand.

The organization reached out to WSU for the training part of the grant because of the university’s reputation in power engineering, said Anjan Bose, WSU Regents professor and nationally recognized electrical power engineering researcher.

“The REB trainees are asking the right questions,” he said. “Their engineering practices differ from ours, but they are very interested in how engineering and economic analysis are used to plan and operate distribution systems in more developed countries.”

Participation, empowerment

The visitors started arriving in groups on Feb. 11; the last course ends May 2. Courses include electric distribution planning, technical loss reduction and methodology, and economic and socioeconomic impact.

Aziz said he is learning a lot and was particularly excited about a lecture on participatory management.

“I want to bring the idea back to Bangladesh,” he said, “so we can set up a board of leadership from different sections of the company and make decisions together and learn from each other.”

The Bangladeshi government set several goals for the year 2021, including electricity nationwide and empowerment of women. The REB addresses both by working to improve electricity distribution and making a concentrated effort to employ women, Aziz said.

Part of their training at WSU includes field trips to Avista, Schweitzer Engineering Labs and other industry in the area, including the WSU smart microgrid campus.