When research is portrayed in popular media, it’s often depicted as a lonely experience: the solitary scientist in their lab who single-handedly makes a big discovery. In the real world, research is an ongoing process that typically involves the labor, commitment and collaboration of entire communities. The Alaska Center for Energy and Power — a research center with offices at UAA, UAF and UAS — is one of those communities.
The intensive five-day training focuses on technical, economic and regulatory basics of microgrids, with an emphasis on Alaska energy challenges. Camp participants earn one credit through the UAF Bristol Bay Campus and are primarily University of Alaska undergraduate students who have been selected for the ACEP Utility Student Internship program.
This year the camp expanded to a full capacity of 16 participants: nine UA undergrad students, four students from out of state and three participants from a regional tribal consortium. ACEP intends to continue expanding the reach of the course in the future to utility members, city and tribal councils, housing authorities, trade schools and programs, and utility industry personnel.
ACEP researchers, ASU collaborators and Alaska energy experts are engaging with the participants and sharing their expertise via sessions such as microgrid design activities, virtual Power Systems Integration Lab tour and demonstration, and Alaska Energy Authority powerhouse tours. There will be a group collaboration project on electric vehicles and an energy audit activity, among other presentations, and virtual hands-on learning activities.
The boot camp outfits participants with the knowledge and skills to prime them for online-based summer internship project work with remote and railbelt utilities, many of which have started the process of integrating renewable and alternative energy sources into their grids.
The Microgrid Boot Camp is funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research.
For more information on the ACEP Microgrid Boot Camp, please contact Heike Merkel.
During the interview, Merkel spoke about the internship, which takes applications from engineering, computer science and economics students enrolled at any University of Alaska institution.
Last year, eight student interns were paired with utilities and energy entities around the state. Several students continued on projects with ACEP afterward, and one intern gained full-time employment with the internship utility.
This year, students can receive up to four credits during their internships.
The Alaska Center for Energy and Power is looking for utility student interns for spring and summer 2020. Students in the program will gain hands-on experience with utilities around Alaska, learn about the challenges of integrating renewable energy sources into a grid, and become versed in microgrids and associated technologies.
The ACEP utility summer internship program consists of a spring semester lecture series, a five-day microgrid boot camp and a 12-week internship during the summer semester.