The WSU-PNNL Advanced Grid Institute offers specialized facilities and career opportunities for researchers and students. These include collaborative research projects, national-scale centers, joint appointments, co-mentored graduate students, new graduate student training programs, co-occupied research laboratories, and signature research facilities at WSU and PNNL, as well as new education and training programs in electrical engineering.
Participants may be able to tap into ongoing WSU-PNNL collaborations such as projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Program or DOE’s Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium.
The electric power program at WSU is considered among the best in the world in power systems research and power engineering education. The Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science educates more than 1,000 undergraduates and nearly 200 graduates annually. Graduate students nominated annually by WSU faculty and PNNL researchers can participate in the PNNL-WSU Distinguished Graduate Research Program. The collaborative program is available to Ph.D. students and offers opportunities in electric power, smart grid, and other areas.
WSU’s Energy Systems Innovation Center, which houses a range of specialized facilities and test beds, is at the forefront of global research, education, and technology innovation and transfer for energy systems. WSU’s Smart Grid Demonstration and Research Investigation Lab develops power system operation and control algorithms using smart grid data and real-time validation.
WSU and its collaborators can tap into important regional connections with key vendors and utility companies and an extensive network of peer research organizations. In 2017, for example, DOE selected WSU to lead a nationwide consortium of U.S. universities and industry partners in a five-year, $30 million joint research project with India to advance the development of the power grid in both countries. Participants are conducting research and deploying new smart grid and energy storage technologies that will modernize the grids of both nations to make them smarter, while increasing resilience and reliability.
A prominent example of a WSU spinoff and ongoing industrial collaboration is Pullman-based Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, founded in 1982 by a WSU alumnus who invented the first all-digital protective relay, revolutionizing the electric power industry. Today, the company employs more than 5,000 people worldwide, including numerous WSU graduates, and provides products and services in 157 countries.
PNNL is a national leader in electricity infrastructure research and is viewed as a key resource for federal grid modernization efforts. With a proven track record of taking on forward-looking challenges, research areas include advanced grid modeling, energy storage, grid architecture, smart grid research and development, cyber security, energy efficiency, renewable power, and emergency response.
The Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center (EIOC) is a national asset that is available to utilities, vendors, government agencies, and universities interested in research, development, or training. WSU is among the users. The Center brings together industry-leading software, real-time grid data, and advanced computation into two fully capable control rooms. Shaped with input from utilities, technology vendors, and researchers across the Northwest, the EIOC serves as a unique platform for researching, developing, and deploying technologies to better manage and control the grid.
The Electricity Infrastructure Cybersecurity and Resilience Center is another resource for collaborators. Researchers use it to develop advanced visualization, analytics, and notification processes for information sharing and situational awareness that directly support continental electric grid cyber security. Another facility, the Building Operations Control Center, serves as a “living laboratory” for PNNL’s campus, showing intelligent infrastructure data from the smart grid, down to buildings, systems, and components.
Institute partners can leverage PNNL’s strong track record of industry collaborations and intellectual property development. Inventors have developed dozens of operational and analytical software packages and other technologies for grid modernization. GridLAB-D, for example, performs detailed simulations and analyses of electric power distribution systems, including smart grid technologies. Users in more than 170 countries have downloaded GridLAB-D and its supporting content around 10,000 times per year since mid-2011. WSU and other universities use the software in in their engineering courses.
An important area of research/industry collaboration is batteries for grid energy storage. PNNL’s redox flow battery technology, which has been called an energy storage breakthrough, formed the foundation for a successful spinoff, UniEnergy Technologies. The Seattle-area company’s megawatt-scale energy storage solution delivers power and energy for commercial/industrial, microgrid, and utility applications, including the world’s largest battery installation, in Dalian, China.
Hundreds of graduate students and post-doctoral research associates come through PNNL’s doors every year, in electrical and power engineering and other areas of research and technology. Check out opportunities for joint appointments, faculty, graduate students, and post graduates, as well as PNNL’s Institutional Postdoc Program. PNNL employs more than 4,000 scientists, engineers, and other professionals who support national missions in fundamental science, energy, and security. Learn about jobs at PNNL.