Unique online power engineering program gets under way

By Tina Hilding, College of Engineering and Architecture

PULLMAN, Wash. – Citing the need for trained engineers in the power industry, Washington State University in fall 2014 will debut the first online professional master’s degree program in electrical power engineering.

The program will add to WSU’s online graduate engineering offerings, which include a master’s degree in engineering technology management. U.S. News and World Report this week ranked WSU 21st among online graduate engineering programs.

The U.S. is facing a shortage of engineers in the power and energy workforce with approximately 45 percent of engineers in the power industry eligible for retirement in the next five years.

“This program promises to have real impact in helping address a need for qualified power engineering leaders around the region and country,’’ said Bob Olsen, program coordinator and professor in WSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

While WSU has one of the largest and top power engineering programs in the country, many other electrical engineering programs typically offer fewer courses in power engineering electives. Graduates who go to work for the power industry have been able to get additional engineering or professional management training but generally not both together.

Industry leaders, meanwhile, have been clamoring for engineers with both technical skills to meet the needs of the smart electric power grid and professional expertise in areas such as management and communications. The professional master’s degree is a relatively new type of degree program in science and math fields to address this challenge.

“This unique program offers a great opportunity for people who are employed in the utility industry and who need the flexibility of online courses,’’ said Olsen.

WSU’s two-year program will include a technical core in power engineering, technical electives and professional courses in areas such as management, communications and decision analysis, said Olsen. An internship will be required.

Faculty teaching WSU’s program will include Anjan Bose, who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as three faculty members who are fellows of the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE).

The program is anticipated to have an initial enrollment of 20 students. They will apply through WSU’s Global Campus.

For more information, see http://www.cea.wsu.edu/psm



Bob Olsen, professor, WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, cell 509-592-8220, bgolsen@wsu.edu