Thursday, March 23, 2006

Expertise in the Electric Power Industry

En español abajo

Recently, Dennis Ray, [Executive Director of PSERC (Power Systems Engineering Research Center at Wisconsin University), a multi-disciplinary academic center with some 40 researchers and 40 industry sponsors collaborating on research needed to address challenges facing electric power industry, and on educating the next generation of power industry professionals], and Bill Snyder [Senior Principal Consultant with KEMA Consulting], have presented an interesting paper on expertise in Power Industry. Link to download the full paper and conclusions follow below.

Ray, Dennis; Snyder, Bill (2006) Strategies to Address the Problem of Exiting Expertise in the Electric Power Industry Proceedings of the 39th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

The exodus of technical expertise is accelerating in the electric power industry. Of the four approaches to addressing this exodus described in this paper, utilities are probably most frequently relying on short payback, low cost solutions, such as operations management improvements, outsourcing with previous employees, and in-house training programs. It is necessary to view the exodus not as a short-term problem, but as a long-term opportunity to rebuild the companies around the next generation of engineers and technicians. Decisions on investments in people are just as important as the decisions on investments in the aging infrastructure.
A priority investment in people should be in the current and potential organization leaders who demonstrate the skills, capability, and forward thinking to envision and create an organizational capability for self renewal through knowledge retention and transfer. This capability may occur through direct human interaction and training, various technological solutions, or most likely a combination that supports the organization knowledge base. The urgency for the investments in people is felt in professional engineering meetings and in the workplace. But the public discourse among executives and policy-makers does not reveal the same sense of urgency. This is also seen in the declining level of research funding of universities even though research is the life-blood of the research and education mission of universities
The exiting workforce, the limited labor pool for experienced workers, and the diminished pipeline of newly educated engineers to fill vacant positions challenge all electric power interests to evaluate new educational methods and practices, new work processes, new technology and new methods for knowledge retention. At all levels of the issue there is a need for comprehensive strategies to address attracting and retaining more power engineering students, to evaluate and integrate new technologies into daily utility operations, and to develop innovative operating models that incorporate the best of people and technology to optimize the effectiveness of scarce human and financial resources.


Casazza, Jack (2005) Impacts of Power Industry Restructuring on Power System Planning, Operation and Economics (or Decline in Influence of Electric Power Engineers). Presentation at IEEE Southeastern Michigan Conference & Dinner. November 9, 2005. By: Jack Casazza, President American Education Institute

Thomas, Robert J. (2005) Managing Relationships Between Electric Power Industry Restructuring and Grid Reliability School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University. August 2005

Casazza, Jack (2005) Electric Power Deregulation — A Bad Idea?IEEE Today's Engineer. May 2005
"The system planning departments that existed in most companies were dissolved. The transfer of past experience and judgment to new engineers and managers ceased. Support for power system education in our universities decreased. Key management positions engineers held declined".

Mascaro, John C (2005) Puts & Calls: Engineers should be leaders, not followers, of green construction Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette. Sunday, April 10, 2005
The problem of engineers being second- and third-stage implementers rather than firststage innovators is that there can be a cost -- either in too many dollars being spent on a solution or a solution that cannot deliver on the expectation -- when public policy is designed without adequate recognition for the technical requirements necessary for success.

National Science Foundation. ”The Engineering Workforce: Current State, Issues, and Recommendations” Final Report to the Assistant Director of Engineering. May 2005.

CIGRE Electric Power Engineering Education (EPEE) Panel Needs of Education and Research in the Electricity Supply Industry and Manufacturing Industry Main Findings of the EPEE Panel of 30th August 2004

Burr, Michael T. (2004) The Talent Bubble Public Utilities Forthnightly. February 2004
Human resources managers at many utilities are sounding alarm bells about an impending shortage of skilled personnel-even amid flat industry growth and high unemployment rates.

Heydt, Gerald T.; Vittal, Vijay. (2003). Feeding our Profession

IERE (International Electric Research Exchange)/ Hydro-Québec Workshop (2003) The Next Generation of Power Engineers and Researchers. Friday Oct. 10, Montreal, Canada.

Venkata SS (2003) Growing The Crop Of Power Engineering Professionals IEEE Power&Energy Magazine. Guest Editorial July/August 2003Vol.1 No.4

Robinson, DA (2003) Issues affecting power engineering undergraduate education in Australia AUPEC2003 28 September-1 October 2003 Australasian Universities Power Engineering Conference

Fuld, Leonard M. (1997), and Borska, Daine L. Product or Proficiency: What Are a Utility's Unique Skills? Public Utilities Fortnightly. July 01.

Transmission and Distribution World. Designing Engineers By Rick Bush Editorial Director. Jul 1, 2006

South China Morning Post. Engineers turned on by career at power utility. By Crystal Tai. Saturday 5th August, 2006.

Casazza, Jack; Delea Frank. Why Have Lessons Learned Not Been Transferred to the Current Generation of Power System Engineers, Managers and Policy Makers and What Can Be Done About It? Power Engineers Supporting Truth (PEST)
This paper reviews the procedures through which power system technical and economic knowledge used to be passed on to succeeding generations of power engineers, managers and policy makers. It explores the reasons why these procedures have been abandoned over the last 30 years resulting in blackouts, bad power policy and the sharp decline in the role of engineers. It suggests steps to correct these failures and to pass on the knowledge gained from past major blackouts and reliability problems."


History against Tsumanis April, 2005.

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Recientemente, Dennis Ray [Director Ejecutivo del PSERC (Centro de Investigación de la Ingeneiría de los Sistemas de Potencia con sede en la Universidad de Wisconsin), un centro académico multidisciplinar que cuenta con 40 investigadores y 40 patrocinadores del Sector Eléctrico que colaboran en la necesidad de investigación para afrontar los retos del Sector Eléctrico, y la formación de las nuevas generaciones de profesionales del sector], y Bill Snyders [Consultor Senior Jefe de KEMA Consulting], han presentado una interesante ponencia sobre capacitación en el Sector Eléctrico. Se facilitan el ink para descargar el artículo completo, la traducción de sus conclusiones y un repertorio de links adicionales.

Ray, Dennis; Snyder, Bill (2006) Strategies to Address the Problem of Exiting Expertise in the Electric Power Industry Proceedings of the 39th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

La pérdida de la capacitación técnica se acelera en el Sector Eléctrico. De los cuatro enfoques descritos en este artículo para afrontar esta fuga, las eléctricas se están inclinando por el "cortoplacismo", las soluciones baratas, como las mejoras de la operativa, recurriendo a la externalización con antiguos empleados, y a programas de formación in situ. Es necesario contemplar esta fuga no como un problema de corto plazo, sino como una oportunidad a largo plazo para reconstruir las empresas en torno a los profesionales de las nuevas generaciones. Las decisiones sobre las inversiones en personal son tan importantes como las decisiones en inversiones en infraestructura.
Una inversión prioritaria en personal debe centrarse en los directivos actuales y potenciales de la eléctrica capaces de imaginar y crear una organización con capacidad para la autorenovación mediante la retención y transferencia del conocimiento. Esta capacidad puede materializarse a través de la interacción y la formación directas del personal, o mediante diversas soluciones tecnológicas, o muy probablemente por una combinación de ambas cosas que soporte la base del conocimiento de la organización.
La urgencia de las inversiones en personal se siente en las reuniones de profesionales de la ingeniería y en el lugar de trabajo. Pero el discurso público entre los directivos y responsables de formular esta política no revela el mismo sentido de la urgencia. Esto se observa también en el nivel declinante de la financiación de la investigación de las universidades, a pesar de que la investigación sea la sangre de la misión investigadora y educadora de las universidades. La fuerza de trabajo existente, el limitado fondo laboral de trabajadores experimentados, y el menguante despacho de ingenieros nuevamente educados para cubrir las vacantes desafían todos intereses del Sector Eléctrico al evaluar los nuevos métodos y las prácticas educativas, los nuevos procesos de trabajo, las nuevas tecnologías y los nuevos métodos de retención del conocimiento. En todos los niveles del asunto son necesarias estrategias completas para atraer y retener a más estudiantes de ingeniería eléctrica, para evaluar e integrar las nuevas tecnologías en la operativa diaria de la empresa eléctrica, y para desarrollar modelos operativos innovadores que incorporen el mejor personal y la mejor tecnología para optimizar la asignación de los recursos.

Los Ingenieros Postergados Michel Alberganti. DYNA Mayo 2005

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