13What is Power Engineering?

Power Engineering is one of the earliest fields that has developed within Electrical Engineering. It deals with generation, transmission and distribution of electric power. Power engineers also work on a variety of power devices and on power conversion (the process of transforming power from one form into another, as in electromechanical or electrochemical processes).

Many power engineers are part of the large team that builds, maintains and develops the large networks that connects power generators with users of this power ("the power grid"). These engineers, who work for power utility companies of governments that maintain power grids design components for the grid, architectures for the grid and devices that either supply power to the grid or draw power from it. Devices that power engineers design and work with include generators, transformers, circuit breakers, relays and transmission lines. Systems the power engineer work on include electrical substations (a subsidiary station of an electricity generation, transmission and distribution system where voltage is transformed from high to low or the reverse using transformers.) Some power engineers also work on smaller "off grid networks" that generate and supply electricity to independent plants or remote areas. A separate area of expertise is generation, transmission and distribution of power on stand-alone plants such as planes and ships.

Power engineering is often analyzed along the three components of generation, transmission and distribution.

Power engineers that work on generation convert other forms of energy into electric power. These sources of power include fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power, solar power, and wind power.

Power engineers that work on transmission are in charge of moving power from the power station where the power is generated to the location of the customer. Power engineers that work on distribution are developing and maintaining systems that distribute power to end user in voltages that can be used by the user's equipment.

Power engineers deal with devices (motors, batteries, capacitors); processes and phenomena (such as power conversion, power drop and blackouts); analysis and design (such as estimation of the stability of a power network and power flow studies); and areas such as renewable energy and environmentally-friendly power systems. In addition to power utilities, power companies and organizations that maintain power networks, some power engineers work for universities and research institutions that advance the state of the art in power engineering and educate the next generation of power engineers.

In spite of its long history, power engineering is a vibrant and challenging discipline. Power engineers are in charge of very large systems whose availability and reliability are critical to society's ability to function and develop. The increase in demand in power, environmental and economical constraints, and the scarcity of some sources of power (such as fossil fuels) pose significant challenges to modern power engineers. These require new processes and techniques, new devices, and integration of other disciplines (such as business and law) in the design and implementation process.   Source TryEngineering.org

Center for Energy Workforce Development - Get into Energy Career Pathway - Electrical/Power Engineer (PDF)

IEEE PES Plain Talks

If you are not an undergraduate student but would like to learn more about the Electric Power System consider taking an IEEE PES PLAIN TALK course. These courses will help the Power Industry Professional understand the technical aspects of the Electric Power System, even if the person does not have an engineering background. You will gain insights into the concerns of engineers, the demands of regulators and consumer groups, and the factors and trends that impact the operation of today’s electric power systems. These courses are also appropriate for non-power engineers who are transitioning to the electric power industry.