In November 2012, the Eskom Executive Committee approved the creation of the Eskom Power Plant Engineering Institute (EPPEI) under the Eskom Academy of Learning (EAL). The aim of EPPEI is to increase the number of engineering specialists by having Eskom Engineers taking courses and carrying out research at University towards a Masters or Doctorate degree.
Eskom has contracted six leading universities in South Africa in which eight Eskom Specialisation Centres (SCs) in Engineering have been established. The EPPEI management team is also supporting the collaboration between these eight SCs and other SA developing universities. It also facilitates the relationship with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that Eskom are working with and foreign utilities and universities, to ensure that the academic and research benefits are distributed widely and are focused on the real needs of the power industry.
The EPPEI academic program was launched in January 2012 and presently close to 100 Eskom engineers are studying full-time at universities. These students are linked with existing research initiatives within Eskom currently housed in the Eskom Sustainability Division, under the banner of RT&D. This research at the universities aims at hosting intellectual property that Eskom purchased and at further developing it for the benefit of South Africa.
This paper firstly discusses some of the key technical challenges that Eskom is presently facing and that the research at universities is contributing to address. It also presents the course curriculum as well as the method used to prepare the research topics in close cooperation between the Eskom specialists and the Academic supervisors. Then the initial version of the research orientations taken by the eight specialisation centres for the first 5-years strategy is given. Some specific inter-university projects aiming at fostering the integration of engineering activities between these SCs are also mentioned....(Read complete paper..)