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W. M. Keck Foundation awards $225,000 to Oregon Tech to establish Smart Grid Lab

Jul 31, 2018
The next-generation power system incorporates advanced communication and control systems with the core generation, transmission, and distributing mechanisms for enhanced reliability and flexibility.

Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) announced that the W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded $225,000 to the university in support of a Smart Grid Lab at the Klamath Falls campus. The W. M. Keck Smart Grid Lab will provide undergraduate engineering students a unique chance to acquire expertise in the fast-evolving power sector.

The next-generation power system incorporates advanced communication and control systems with the core generation, transmission, and distributing mechanisms for enhanced reliability and flexibility. Termed the “Smart Grid”, this system is expected to be at the core of future power systems and, among other advances, will enable easier integration of renewable energy sources. The Smart Grid Lab will allow students to conduct cutting-edge projects and research, enhance their capability for critical thinking and understanding, and advance multi-disciplinary knowledge – making them the perfect workforce for the evolving energy sector.

Oregon Tech president Dr. Nagi Naganathan said, “We are thankful for this significant investment that the W. M. Keck Foundation is making in Oregon Tech students. The Smart Grid Lab will further advance Oregon Tech’s career-ready graduates to become distinctive professionals in energy related fields and to meet growing workforce needs in clean energy.”

This innovative lab will provide an independent hardware/software platform for exploring operation, control and integration of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, and geothermal with an existing power grid. The “Smart Grid” system will include real-time data acquisition and small-scale power production models, and will be provide exciting teaching and learning opportunities for approximately 150 students and faculty each year across several departments.

Preliminary project work has already begun, with completion estimated in spring 2021. Assistant professor of Electrical Engineering & Renewable Energy (EERE), Dr. Eklas Hossain, is the principal investigator of the project. Dr. Hossain stated, “Our sincere thanks to the W. M. Keck Foundation for funding this project which will offer a unique experience to our students and faculty. This smart grid platform will help us in significant ways to upgrade our curriculum with student access to world-class lab facilities on par with the industry standard, and the ability to conduct cutting-edge research on energy systems.”

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering and undergraduate education. The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth. For more information, please visit www.wmkeck.org.

To learn more about how you can help support students at Oregon Tech, contact Tracy Ricketts, Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at 541-885-1118 or Tracy.Ricketts@oit.edu.
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