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Power Education at the Crossroads

Though students tend to favor higher-tech and more lucrative fields than power engineering, reports of the discipline's demise are exaggerated

14 min read
Power Education at the Crossroads
Illustration: Jim O'Brien

The electric power industry in the United States is facing a disquieting shortage of trained engineering personnel. For decades, things have gone downhill. The salaries paid to power engineers have been lower than those of virtually all other electrical engineers. Student enrollments have steadily declined. University programs have atrophied.

To top things off, as the electric power industry has been radically reorganized in the last 10 years to allow for greater competition, utilities have economized by cutting staff, even as the technical requirements of running their operations have become spectacularly more demanding. While power engineering has continued to attract engineering school students overseas, where positions in industry enjoy prestige and competitive salaries, the effect has been to aggravate the situation in the United States.

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IEEE President’s Note: Looking to 2050 and Beyond

The importance of future-proofing IEEE

4 min read
Photo of K. J. Ray Liu
IEEE

What will the future of the world look like? Everything in the world evolves. Therefore, IEEE also must evolve, not only to survive but to thrive.

How will people build communities and engage with one another and with IEEE in the future? How will knowledge be acquired? How will content be curated, shared, and accessed? What issues will influence the development of technical standards? How should IEEE be organized to be most impactful?

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The Device That Changed Everything

Transistors are civilization’s invisible infrastructure

2 min read
A triangle of material suspended above a base

This replica of the original point-contact transistor is on display outside IEEE Spectrum’s conference rooms.

Randi Klett

I was roaming around the IEEE Spectrum office a couple of months ago, looking at the display cases the IEEE History Center has installed in the corridor that runs along the conference rooms at 3 Park. They feature photos of illustrious engineers, plaques for IEEE milestones, and a handful of vintage electronics and memorabilia including an original Sony Walkman, an Edison Mazda lightbulb, and an RCA Radiotron vacuum tube. And, to my utter surprise and delight, a replica of the first point-contact transistor invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brittain, and William Shockley 75 years ago this month.

I dashed over to our photography director, Randi Klett, and startled her with my excitement, which, when she saw my discovery, she understood: We needed a picture of that replica, which she expertly shot and now accompanies this column.

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Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.