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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Good example of how STEM works in this day and age - Collaborations for Power Grid Security

My alma mater, UIUC, just had some $18 million dollars in grants given to it (the College of Engineering, that is) to develop the most robust platform for testing the security of the U.S. power grid. The U.S. is in the process of a long-term renovation of the decades-old power grid, which is outdated in terms of both technology and security, and developing the whole 'smart-grid' concept. This is one where engineers and power companies will have better data and faster responses to problems with the grid, where computers can automatically control where and how much power is being sent to different users on the grid based on demand and resources, better efficiency and cost control, better energy conservation, hooking up new energy sources to the grid (such as solar, wind, geothermal, bio-based sources, etc.), and increasing infrastructure to places where it does not presently exist so there can be expansions of wind farms and solar farms in the future. This is a HUGE project and will proceed for many years to come (making it a good time to be a civil, computer, environmental, or electrical engineer), but without a robust security system on the grid, it will always be vulnerable to attacks, especially via the Internet. This type of research is absolutely crucial for the U.S. future.

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