Energy Center

Purdue Smart Grid Initiative

The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines that powers our factories, homes and schools. Often taken for granted, our daily dependence on electrical power is most likely produced by a coal or gas-fired plant that can be ramped up or down to meet demand. The United States' current electric grid was designed more than a century ago, and its inefficiencies are expensive.  Rising energy prices and increased power demands weigh heavily on the aging infrastructure, and have forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation's electrical systems to address:

Approximately 6% of electricity generated is lost in the transmission and distribution system, costing consumers roughly $25 billion annually.

Power demand rose nearly 30% between 1990 and 2009 (DOE, 2011), resulting in a rising number of power outages and blackouts, which now cost the nation at least $150 billion per year (U.S. DOE, 2008).

Nationwide demand for electricity is expected to grow 30% by 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Energy Outlook 2009.

Electricity prices are forecast to increase 50% over the next 7 years.

To answer these challenges, utilities will be turning to more efficient transmission and digital infrastructure and communication processes called the Smart grid. Purdue University, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College have stepped forward to train the workforce of tomorrow that can design, develop, install, and maintain the electrical grid, through the Crossroads Smart Grid Training Program.


The Crossroads Smart Grid Training Grant 

Purdue University, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College, received a $4.7 million grant from the US Department of Energy to develop an education and training program designed to minimize the education-workforce gap in the electric energy sector. The focus of the training project is to bring together education and industry to develop and deploy a suite of educational/training modules and courses to meet industry needs as required for the 21st century “Smart Grid,” as well as to bring institutional experience and expertise to bear on related challenges of recruitment, retention, graduation and employment. Evolution towards a national Smart Grid is occurring in the context of major national and regional energy sector workforce concerns which include:

• Effects on grid reliability and capability with the loss of knowledge and expertise due to retirements
• Up-skilling of the existing workforce to meet changing and increasingly technical requirements
• Filling the career pipeline with students interested in energy careers
• Improving employability and retention


The Crossroads Smart Grid External Advisory Board

To ensure that the education and training offered meet the needs and expectations of the potential employers of our students, an External Advisory Board has been formed. This part of the project will be led by the Indiana Energy Systems Network, which is a catalyst for partnerships among private firms and research institutions in Indiana. It will be industry led but include representation from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development through the WorkOne centers as well as  Ivy Tech Community College regional campuses and Purdue University regional campuses. The advisory board is comprised  of select industry representatives such as Duke Energy, Indianapolis Power & Light,  Indiana Michigan Power, and the Indiana Association of Rural Cooperatives.  The External Advisory Board will ensure relevancy and accuracy of goals and deliverables in addition to participating in the refining of the vision and objectives. Members will help guide the curriculum development at the associate and bachelor levels.  Concerning career paths, these companies represent a relevant sample of Indiana Energy  companies, and can help students in obtaining internships externships and jobs.


Inaugural External Advisory Board Members

American Electric Power

Delphi Corporation 

Duke Energy

Energy Systems Network

General Electric  

Indianapolis Power & Light

Ivy Tech

Louisville Gas & Electric

Midwest ISO

NiSource (NIPSCO)

Purdue REMC Statewide (Indiana)



Smart Grid Navigation

Smart Grid Contact Information

For more information, contact

J. Eric. Dietz
Department of Computer and Information Technology
Knoy Hall of Technology, Room 259
401 N. Grant Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907
Phone: 765-494-8130

About the Energy Center

The Center’s mission is to grow the Purdue energy research and education enterprise. We engage researchers and students in a community that delivers new discoveries and develops disruptive technologies with national and global impact.


Maureen McCann

Director, Energy Center,
Global Sustainability Institute

Pankaj Sharma

Managing Director, Energy Center,
Global Sustainability Institute

Mann Hall, Rm 105
203 South Martin Jischke Dr.
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1971