Pennsylvania State University (PSU), a leader in microgrid and energy storage technology, distributed energy systems, and associated workforce training initiatives, has joined forces with Santa Fe Community College, supported by MSL and ProtoGen Energy, to develop the new DESTENI program (Distributed Energy Systems Technical Education Network Initiative). The consortium (convened by MSL) has submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education program for its initial funding in 2020, having reached the finalist stage of consideration last year.
The goal is to develop a widely replicable and industry validated Distributed Energy Systems Technician training program of curriculum components and certifications that will significantly advance the knowledge and implementation of education and training nationally in these critical emerging energy technologies.
DESTENI builds on SFCC’s current work with MSL in this area, including the NM SMART Grid Center new faculty hire, and the “Nanogrid” training facilities on campus. PSU has created a number of related foundational programs, including the Energy Storage and Microgrid Training and Certification (ESAMTAC) with ProtoGen, and is the primary research university partner in the Philadelphia Navy Yard microgrid project and associated GridSTAR education center. Industry experts and organizations such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association will provide input and guidance.
By combining their expertise, facilities, and collaborative networks, the partners will lead in the creation of a national center of excellence for workforce and professional development in this field.
The DESTENI project’s goal will be achieved through four core objectives:
- Identify the knowledge, skills, and competencies microgrid energy technicians should possess through a job task analysis (JTA) in collaboration with industry partners
- Create effective and replicable distributed energy technician curricula that include performance indicators, skill standards, and certifications and are based on job task analysis, industry validation and research based practices
- Leverage existing infrastructure, networks, and partnerships and the resources to enhance and disseminate training curricula
- Broaden the pipeline of underrepresented minorities and females into the microgrid energy technician pathway.
The ESAMTAC initiative, led by Penn State University, is a nonprofit, brand neutral, national training and certification program based on standards and codes developed and/or approved by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS), National Electrical Code (NEC), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). ESAMTAC is a nonprofit organization supported by industry contributions, and by the National Science Foundation. SFCC is also evaluating the integration of the basic ESAMTAC curriculum into its program.
The DOE GridSTAR Center is a smart grid education and research center that is part of the Architectural Engineering Department at PSU. Its formation is the result of a three-year $5 million contractual award by DOE to Penn State that also requires $5 million in matching funds. The Center offers a variety of for-credit and non-credit programs in Philadelphia, University Park, and Pittsburgh in addition to several online formats. Much of the planned research will occur at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia because it has an unregulated microgrid. Part of this microgrid in the Clean Energy Campus area will be a highly-monitored subgrid being designed for the plug-and-play testing of smart grid components and system configurations.