OSWEGO — A two-year, $297,500 award from the State University’s Performance Improvement Fund will give new impetus to SUNY Oswego’s efforts to develop the clean energy workforce of tomorrow.
The bulk of the award will go toward equipping the teaching lab and a new research lab for electrical and computer engineering’s concentration in modern energy systems.
The labs aim to provide a hands-on academic foundation for students interested in renewable energy and other power systems.
Other Oswego beneficiaries of the SUNY award will include the physics nano-lab, the technology department’s research and a program to mentor top Onondaga Community College students to transfer to Oswego in STEM fields dealing with renewable energy.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Oswego’s initiatives Sept. 4 as part of a $15 million investment in SUNY clean energy workforce development and training programs.
The state Department of Labor, in 2015, published data that show electrical engineering is among the top 15 largest STEM occupations, and holds promise for increasing demand for workers for the next decade.
The ECE program works closely with the college’s Engineering Advisory Board, which includes members from industry partners that provide internships and are closely attuned to workforce needs for talented college graduates.
Board members include representatives of C&S, Exelon, Novelis, Syracuse Research Corp. and others.
“This funding is really critical for further studies in the field of power systems,” said Rameen Mohammadi, associate provost for undergraduate and special programs.
Oswego’s electrical and computer engineering (ECE) department plans to add workstations and new electrical testing equipment for its teaching lab in the Richard S. Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation.
The equipment will serve undergraduates who are in courses dealing with power systems, electrical machines and power electronics, according to Hui Zhang, an ECE faculty member with expertise in power systems, including energy conversion and control for wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies.
“We lay the foundation in the general area of power and energy first,” Zhang said. “Then we will establish renewable energy curriculum to teach students the specific skills expected by the clean energy industry.”
For the research lab, the college plans to acquire a power research platform that will be able to simulate and test renewable energy systems, such as photovoltaic and wind systems, Zhang said. The lab will provide a test facility for faculty research and faculty-mentored student projects.
“This will greatly enhance our competency to attract and train students as members of the future clean energy workforce,” she said.
Junior Kory McTague and senior Justin Ross, both ECE majors, work in an existing Shineman Center lab, testing a new method to measure the flicker of LED lights. Their study gives a glimpse — in terms of improving a lighting technology that can significant reduce the energy consumption for illumination — into the future of a fully equipped research lab.
Also thanks to the SUNY award, physics faculty member Mohammad Islam plans to add equipment to ensure the safety of his research on sodium ion batteries. Sodium is extremely sensitive to the presence of moisture and oxygen — it can catch fire — so Islam has requested state-of-the-art sensors for an argon-pressurized glove box in the Shineman Center’s nano-lab.
The college’s technology education program — as with physics and ECE — stands to benefit from the fund with stipends for faculty-mentored summer research opportunities for SUNY Oswego students, faculty summer stipends, and travel in conjunction with work related to clean energy.
The award also will provide opportunities for several top Onondaga Community College students for each to have two years to work on research projects under SUNY Oswego professors’ mentorship, with an eye toward encouraging the students to transfer to Oswego as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors.
For more information on electrical and computer engineering at SUNY Oswego, visit oswego.edu/ece or call 315-312-6597.