Our 'greatest invention' needs a makeover, says Energy Systems Engineering director, even as more renewable energy is brought into the mix

Have engineers played a role in the current policy uncertainties surrounding the power grid and renewable energy? 

According to Rudy Shankar, director of Lehigh's Energy Systems Engineering program, the answer is yes, because engineers have struggled to communicate clearly about the electrical grid and have failed to make a "persuasive case that the most important thing in our life can, if neglected, crumble."

In a recent op-ed published in The Morning Call, Shankar explains: "If it is not clear to the ordinary consumer, why would we expect the policies around electricity to be clear? We are struggling today with a lack of a federal policy and a patchwork of state policies with differing definitions of what is renewable energy, what standards should they comply by and what would be the cost of changes," including upgrades to the grid.

Shankar, who has a wealth of experience in the energy sector as a senior executive with a major utility, an entrepreneur, and researcher, says a successful makeover of the design and business side of the power grid requires input from a more inclusive group of players. 

"Simply put, the grid is best explained by all—and not by just anointed technology experts" says Shankar. All of us, he adds, "should be engaged in the needed business model revamp—not just the utilities and public utility commissions."

Read the full article on The Morning Call's website.

About Lehigh's Energy Systems Engineering Program

The 30-credit, 10-month professional master's (M. Eng.) degree program in Energy Systems Engineering (ESE) provides the tools and training necessary for young scientists and engineers to develop themselves into leaders in the emerging challenges of the energy and power industry—creating a pipeline of talent interested in pursuing energy-oriented careers. The ESE program represents a novel partnership among students, industry sponsors, and academic faculty, serving as a center of excellence that promotes research, education, and technology transfer in energy systems. 
Rudy Shankar

Rudy Shankar is the director of Energy Systems Engineering at Lehigh. He is also affiliated with the Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy (I-CPIE).