Insights > Scholars, Employees Gather for Utility Geek Heaven

Scholars, Employees Gather for Utility Geek Heaven

04/21/2016

Annual mind meld leads to valuable grid research

Have you ever imagined what utility geek heaven looks like? Picture some of the brightest minds in Entergy’s service territory, gathered in a room, all pitching the next big idea in grid research.

That’s exactly what happened recently at Entergy’s transmission headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi. Scholars from five different universities each had 15 minutes to make presentations on how their ideas could bring value to Entergy’s customers. A team of 22 Entergy experts will evaluate the proposals, funding those that best enable the grid of the future.

“This annual exercise helps Entergy get valuable research done. It also strengthens our relationships with local universities,” said Tom Field, transmission staff engineer. “In addition, students in our service area get real-world experience. Then, they can make informed decisions about joining our industry or our company once they graduate.”

Proposals cover a range of topics that set electrical engineering brains buzzing: relay setting automation, real-time grid monitoring, integration of renewables and critical infrastructure protection. During a marathon day of discussion, the group gleefully hashed out the ideas in an effort to improve reliability, control customer costs and make the most productive investments possible.

“We teach students, and we also have a role in supporting and developing industries related to our fields,” said Joni Klüss, a visiting assistant professor at Mississippi State University. “At MSU, we have the largest high-voltage lab of any university in North America. The type of research we can do not only helps develop and prepare our students for the professional world. It can help the whole utility industry make positive progress.”

Each year, Entergy awards about $1 million in grid research grants to universities in the company’s service area. Projects typically help capture savings, improve reliability or meet safety and regulatory requirements.

“We’ve been consistently pleased with the outcomes of our collaborations,” added Field. “Since we started doing this about five years ago, we’ve had a number of notable successes, including our legacy relay database project, which digitized and catalogued our relay settings.”

Entergy transmission’s collaboration with area universities is another way the company is working to identify and make productive investments. You can visit entergy.com for more information about Entergy's commitment to education


Nicole Bradshaw
Manager of Digital and Social Media