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Sustainable Grid Integration of Distributed and Renewable Resources IGERT K-12 Outreach: Curriculum Development


The spring of 2014 proved a busy time for trainees in the University of Texas at Austin IGERT in Sustainable Grid Integration of Distributed and Renewable Resources. A collaboration with UTeachEngineering at the University of Texas at Austin resulted in eight to ten IGERT trainees and affiliates creating a one-week module for high school engineering curriculum to be used in the UTeachEngineering high school course, Engineer Your World. The mini-module introduces students to different modeling techniques used in engineering coupled with a genuine challenge focusing on sustainable energy.

The group decided to use their combined expertise in next generation power grid technology and renewable energy to teach about solar photovoltaic energy generation and distributed grid production. They developed a series of activities that allows students to create desktop-sized models of a power grid; use physical, analytical, and economic tools to investigate the effects of distributed solar photovoltaic power generation; and ultimately convert the classroom models into micro-grids.

When asked about their work on the project, most students stated things like, “Rewarding, interesting, exciting.” And, one student said, “I want to be in the class that does this project.” IGERT alumni Matthew Charlton organized and facilitated much of the work of the module development during the three month period. He stated, “It was a chance to combine skills and contribute to a program that helps foster an interest in engineering in high school students all around the country. For many on the team it was also a unique opportunity to learn about the challenges and rewards of teaching in STEM education.” UTeachEngineering may implement the program in their training curriculum as early as next year.