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Proposal 7-17

The University Senate of Michigan Technological University

Proposal 7-17 
(Voting Units: Academic) 

"Proposal to Establish a
Concentration in Electric Power Engineering
as part of the degree
Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering"
(Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering)

PDF version of Proposal 7-17

(1) Date:   November 3, 2016 

(2) Department Proposer: Daniel R. Fuhrmann, Chair, ECE 

(3) Interdisciplinary Program Approval– Not Applicable, this concentration is not an interdisciplinary program. 

(4) General Description and Program Characteristics 

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan Technological University proposes a new Concentration in Electric Power Engineering to be included with the degree Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. The Concentration is being created in response to Senate Proposal 43-15 to replace the function of the Certificate in Electric Power Engineering for our undergraduate students. We will continue to offer the Certificate in Electric Power Engineering to students who have already earned a Bachelor's degree.

This concentration will provide a tailorable but constrained coursework focus in (a) electric energy systems (both conventional and renewable), (b) power system component, device and machine modeling, (c) steady state electric power system analysis, (d) faulted power system analysis, (e) power system protection, (f) transient analysis of power systems, (g) economic operation of power systems and (h) opportunities to explore expanded graduate-level coursework in power systems.

Learning Goals: The learning goals associated with this concentration would include those defined by ABET program outcomes: a (an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering), b (an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data), c (the ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints),  e (an ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems) and k (the ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for the practice of electrical engineering). 

Other goals of this concentration include:  

1) Provide a coursework structure that will allow current and prospective students to be aware of the many applications of electrical power engineering in today’s marketplace, and the opportunities available to electrical engineers with interests in electric power, and  

2) Provide employers with the clear distinction of potential employees with focused studies in the field of electrical power engineering at Michigan Technological University.  

(5) Rationale

Electrical engineering and affiliated fields such as computer engineering and computer science are among the technical disciplines which are experiencing the highest demand currently among prospective employers. This is particularly true at Michigan Tech, where our educational approach emphasizing a firm grounding in the fundamentals, individual skills, team-based projects, and hands-on experiences produces graduates which are highly recruited in industry.  For example, at the Fall 2015 Career Fair, there were representatives from 377 companies and organizations on campus; 215 were seeking electrical engineers and 118 were seeking computer engineers for co-ops, internships, and full-time positions.  Self-reported data from the Michigan Tech EE and CpE graduates in the Class of 2013 indicates a 96% placement rate and an average starting salary in excess of $60,000. 

One of the core competencies in the ECE Department is education in electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution. This has been true since the founding of the EE Department in 1928, and it remained true throughout our history, even during the "lean years" of the 1980s and 1990s when electrical power engineering fell out of favor among many small- and medium-sized ECE Departments due to lack of research funding and lack of innovation and investment in the utility power industry.   Today, that situation has completely turned around.  Our industry partners tell us of a shortage of engineers in the workforce as many of the current engineering near retirement age.  Investment in the power grid infrastructure, the advent of "smart grid" technologies, concern over critical infrastructure cybersecurity, and the broad nationwide interest in renewable sources such as wind and solar, along with emerging energy storage technologies, have all made electric power engineering one of the hottest subfields within electrical engineering, for students and recruiters alike.   Michigan Tech has a number of long-standing good relationships with the utility power industry in the upper Midwest.  The ECE External Advisory Committee includes representatives from Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, and Systems Control, and the College of Engineering External Advisory Board has a representative from International Transmission Corporation.   We have research sponsored by Xcel Energy and agencies within the federal government, most notably the Department of Defense, that have a strong interest in the energy technologies of tomorrow.   The Dennis Wiitanen Endowed Professorship in Electric Power Engineering was made possible by contributions from several industry partners and individuals in the industry.   Many other companies in the energy field recruit at Michigan Tech, including American Transmission Company, Black & Veatch, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories,  and Wolverine Power.  We are proud of our reputation and our contributions to the field and are pleased to see it recognized in so many different ways. 

Because of the strong interest by many of our undergraduate students in electric power engineering, and the strong interest among recruiters in those same students, we feel it will be beneficial to both parties to have a formal recognition of specialized training in this area as part of the broader training in electrical engineering.   This was true many years ago when the BSEE degree included what were known as "options"; indeed, we did have at one time a "power option".  Today this recognition is done through the mechanism of Concentrations.  Students taking the Concentration in Electric Power Engineering will be directed toward a specific set of courses that will best train them to enter the workforce in the power industry.  Similarly, industry recruiters will know which of our students have had that specialized training, and will seek them out for co-ops, internships, and full-time jobs.   This Concentration may also serve as a recruiting tool for prospective undergraduate students, who recognize the value of a Michigan Tech education and have an interest in re-inventing the power grid someday.   The proposed concentration is designed to meet all these needs. 

(6)   Related Programs 

There are no other related programs at Michigan Tech.

(7) Student Enrollment

There have been no problems handling demand for the previous Certificate in Electrical Power Engineering with the current faculty and staff within the ECE Department. Therefore, there are no anticipated shortcomings in delivering this proposed concentration. 

(8) Scheduling Plans

This concentration can be accommodated in a regular, 4-year electrical engineering student study plan (see (9)).

(9) Curriculum Design

The boundary conditions the proposed concentration must satisfy were established by the University Senate of Michigan Technological University in proposal 15-11. In particular: “Concentrations (also referred to as options) within a major degree program will be granted to students who have completed the requirements established by the program's home academic unit at Michigan Technological University. Concentrations will be noted on official transcripts and diplomas. The purpose of a concentration is to give recognition that the student has actively and consciously engaged the intellectual issues central to the concentration.” 

 “A concentration does not have any specific credit limitations, except that the total number of credits required by the degree and the major concentration combined may not exceed 128 credits (or 131 credits if 3 credits of free elective are included in the degree requirements). The academic unit offering the concentration determines specific courses fulfilling the requirement. The minimum grade-point average required for the concentration is that of the major degree program.”

Currently in the EEE curriculum, there are:

12 Credits General Education Required Courses 12 Credits HASS Distribution Courses 30 Credits Required Math, Physics and Eng Fundamentals 

48 Credits in the EE core curriculum

7 Credits Approved (Capstone) Design

15 Credits EE Electives 1 Credits Approved Electives 3 Credits Select Approved Electives

128 Total Credits

To complete the Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering with a Concentration in Electric Power Engineering a student must include the following 10 credits of coursework:

EE 3120 Electric Energy Systems      3    F/S/Su
EE 4221 Power System Analysis I      3    F
EE 4222 Power System Analysis II      3    S
EE 4226 Power Engineering Laboratory      1    S/Su
 And 6 credits or more from:          
EE 4219 Intro to Electric Machinery and Drives      3   S
EE 4220 Intro to Electric Machinery and Drives Lab      1   S
EE 4227 Power Electronics        3   F
EE 4227 Power Electronics Lab        1   F
EE 4262 Digital and Non-linear Control      3   S
EE 5200 Advanced Methods in Power Systems      3   F
EE 5230 Power System Operations        3   F
EE 5223 Power System Protection        3   S
EE 5223 Power System Protection Lab        1   S
EE 5240 Computer Modeling of Power Systems      3   F
EE 5250 Distribution Engineering        3   F
EE 5290 Special Topics in Power Systems      3   F/S/Su 

The courses listed above are taught regularly (listed as shown in the University catalog) by faculty members within the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (see for faculty credentials).  

It should be noted that the list of electives given above includes several advanced courses in the ECE graduate power program. Waivers to allow appropriately prepared undergraduates into these courses are routinely granted.   

The BSEE 4-year plan that includes the proposed Concentration in Electric Power Engineering can be found in the Appendix.

(10) New Course Descriptions

The Certificate in Electric Power Engineering currently draws from regularly scheduled ECE courses to satisfy its requirements; therefore, no difficulty is anticipated in servicing the student demand for the proposed Concentration.   

This concentration is based entirely on existing courses at Michigan Tech.   No new resources are required.

(11) Schedule

On-campus students who previously would have earned the Certificate in Electric Power Engineering will now be directed to the Concentration in Electric Power Engineering. Students will schedule coursework to complete this concentration as shown in the appended 4-year plan. 

(12) Library/Other Resources

No additional library or other non-ECE resources required.

(13) Faculty Resumes

The background and interest/expertise areas of the power area faculty are found on the department webpage:

(14) Needed Equipment

There are no additional equipment needs required to implement this concentration.

(15) Program Costs

No additions costs are required to implement this concentration.

(16) Space

There are no additions space requirements to implement this concentration.

(17) Policies, Regulations and Rules

The requirements to earn the Concentration in Electric Power Engineering are presented in (9) above.

(18) Accreditation Requirements

The courses contained in this concentration falls under the same ABET mandated accreditation procedures implemented as part of the ECE department’s continuous improvement plan.

(19) Planned Implementation

Implementation of the concentration will begin immediately upon approval.

Link to the chart of courses for the Concentration.

Introduced to Senate:  18 January 2017
Approved by Senate:  01 February 2017
Approved by Administration:  15 February 2017