Kwasi Opoku (left) and Max Caroll '21 (right) near computers and desks
Kwasi Opoku (left) and Max Caroll ’21 (right) are two of the engineering students eager to get to work in the new lab.

Max Carroll ’21 completed his bachelor’s degree in the summer in electrical engineering with focus on power and renewable energy. He was inspired to pursue a career in energy after experiences in Germany, where he grew up and still visits frequently.

“When you drive through Germany you see windmills and renewable energy sources everywhere, and when I went back, they were expanding on it, and adding panels,” says Carroll. “I said to myself, ‘How do these things actually work?’ ”

Now a graduate student studying electrical engineering at UCF, Carroll is planning on spending a lot of time in the new space.

“I’ll be doing my research there, as all the tools I need are in there. But I can also study there,” he says. “The computers have virtually all the programs there that I’ll need for my classes.”

“We are excited to bring this innovative research space to UCF engineering students,” says Ed De Varona, FPL’s vice president of transmission & substation. “The lab is a terrific training ground for rising engineers to work directly with the latest technologies and help refine and innovate the way energy is transmitted and distributed across the grid now and in the future.”

Four men and one woman hold large ceremonial power cord for plug-in ceremony at the Microgrid Control Lab
University leadership and representatives from Florida Power & Light (FPL) and GE Digital officially opened the Microgrid Control Lab on Nov. 9.

Currently, more than 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students at UCF are studying electrical or computer engineering — disciplines that support energy systems and electricity grids. Another 500-plus UCF students have indicated they plan to pursue an electrical or computer engineering major once prerequisite coursework is completed.

UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a power and renewable energy track as part of its undergraduate programs. In addition, a graduate certificate is offered in sustainable and resilient energy systems.

“The Microgrid Control Lab provides unprecedented access to a modern grid control center that enables some of the brightest young minds in the country to collaborate, learn and help reimagine the energy grid of tomorrow,” says Jim Walsh, general manager of GE Digital’s Grid Software business. “As renewable energy sources, like solar, continue to expand and evolve, the technology behind the grid has to keep up. It is critical that electrical and computer engineering talent have real-life experiences with the hardware and software that underpins the modern grid helping utilities securely deliver reliable clean energy.”

GE Digital is also beginning a new internship program that invests in the development of its team and future grid engineering leaders. The program will offer UCF students an intensive experience in the utilities and power sectors and help students develop analytical and software development skills using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

FPL and GE Digital together employ approximately 400 UCF alumni in their workforces.