About half of utility industry engineers and other technologists reach retirement age this decade. See Utilities Face Massive Brain Drain. Maybe even more concerning, the majority of professors that teach power engineering are also getting ready to retire.
It seemed for a while that all the hoopla around Smart Grid and the influx of government (taxpayer) funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) would attract a lot of new blood from the IT industry. After all, smart grid wasn't so much the old energy delivery system management methodology as it was about a brand new reinvention of the grid.
But it turned out (as most of us knew it would) that smart grid was mostly an extension and integration of the automation systems that were already in place (DA, ADA, AMA, AMI, OMS, DMS etc. – the whole alphabet soup). We didn't need a lot of new blood.
So, here we go – a lot of folks will be leaving soon. University power engineering course enrollments aren't growing. So where will the new resources come from? Or can we get along with a reduced work force?
When I left U.C. Berkeley I never thought I’d end up as an engineer in the power industry. I was headed for either aerospace or Silicon Valley. But here I am many years later after a long and mostly satisfying career as a utility employee and later as industry consultant. But initially I sure wasn't attracted by any utility industry 'glamour' factor.
Maybe we need a public relations campaign to attract engineering/science majors to our industry? Hah – can’t see that happening.
How about you? Would you do it over again? Check the answers that most fit. Don’t forget the comment box.