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IEEE: The expertise to make smart grid a reality

High School Students Prepare for Smart Grid with SMART Competition

The electricity grid has performed brilliantly for more than a century in powering our homes, offices, schools etc., but it is ill equipped on several fronts to meet the future needs of our citizens.

Put it this way, if Alexander Graham Bell were confronted with today's telephony - cell phones, texting, etc. - he would most likely be amazed. However, Thomas Edison, would probably feel quite at home in the largely non-digital, electromechanical landscape that is today's grid.

Businesses, governments and universities around the world are actively involved in designing and developing Smart Grids that will spur the kind of transformation that the Internet brought to the way we live, work, play and learn.

IEEE is announcing an exciting new volunteer-led engineering initiative to get high school students not only thinking about Smart Grid, but also creating it. IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) is co-sponsoring an innovative new venture that engages high school students in the building of the future Smart Grid. The SMART Competition will enable high school students to focus on Smart Grid concepts including: sustainable building design, smart grid monitoring and improvement of campus loading conditions, neighborhood impact, and varying loading conditions such as electrical vehicle (EV) charging, special or extraordinary events, day-of-week fluctuations, etc.

The purpose of the competition is to expose high-school students to the concept of Smart Grid, energy monitoring and energy conservation, and lead them through the necessary steps to create new solutions to better utilize resources. As part of the learning process, the student will also become knowledgeable of concepts regarding power generation, load balancing and security requirements for the grid and how to design a project that applies and potentially improves those concepts. The project will also focus on the sustainability of building design and approaches to energy efficient building.

During the competition, students will develop workforce experience through the use of commercially used computer-aided design (CAD) software and the principles of its use in the construction industry. Students will leave the competition familiar with energy simulation, building design software and building information modeling, as well as 3D imaging and design.

Beginning with a high school campus, the students will redesign the school's existing gymnasium. Project deliverables include a scale model of the gymnasium/campus, a computer generated animation of a fly-around of their campus and auditorium, a research report based on the challenge of the Smart Grid and a team presentation. Students will use Bentley AECOsim Energy Simulator, a new high-end energy simulation tool, to develop baseline data and monitor the energy usage on their campus design. The SMART Competition will take begin in the fall of 2011. Regional and national competitions will take place in early 2012. The goal of the competition is to provide a real-world application of technology enabling high school students to address a critical environmental and energy challenge. In addition to the academic elements of the competition, the program will facilitate the development of workforce and life skills including computer analysis and software design, verbal and written communication, research, teamwork and problem solving.

Beta testing of the program began in March of this year at select schools in Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Texas, and is scheduled to conclude in July. Registrations for the SMART Competition will begin in November 2011.

Following the initial beta competition, additional training materials will be added such as supporting web forums and seminars to further educate the participants. It is anticipated that as the competition rolls out, the program will connect with other STEM and "green building" initiatives to allow for the greater exposure of both the program and its participants.

In order to succeed, SMART Competition needs help from IEEE members. Volunteers already involved in the energy fields and those outside the field are needed to take the program to the next level.

For more information on the SMART Competition, how to help or how to register your school to participate contact Michael Andrews at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Michael Andrews IEEE Region 6 Delegate-Elect and Jean Eason, past IEEE Region 5 Director are the creators of the SMART Competition, designed to help increase understanding of Smart Grid while training and educating the engineers of tomorrow. SMART is the combination of Smart Grid and Sustainable Materials And Renewable Technology, which forms the basis for the student project.