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Students looking at interior of SESI plant

The electricity system integrates engineering, economics, finance, market structures, business, law and government policy. Yet the education of industry experts has generally not interconnected these domains. This is insufficient for training the innovators of the 21st century grid. The economic and environmental stakes are too great to solve a problem in one area, only to unknowingly create a bigger problem elsewhere.

Toward this end, Bits & Watts will pursue a two-pronged education strategy:

  • Help industry executives broaden expertise required for a holistic, data-driven approach to transforming the grid
  • Produce a new generation of Stanford graduates with a holistic and integrated understanding of emerging grid trends to continue the transformation

Bits & Watts will establish a professional development program for executives of sponsoring organizations. This program may include lecture-style courses and introductory online modules for executives to extend their knowledge in subjects outside their main area of expertise. Depending on interest, Bits & Watts could offer intensive sessions on campus that incorporate project-based learning in teams comprising different areas of expertise with some faculty instruction. These sessions could focus on scenarios or interdisciplinary business cases (real or hypothetical) that interact with data, policy, the grid and consumers.

Secondly, Bits & Watts will provide full-time Stanford graduate and undergraduate students interested in the electricity industry with curricula of relevant courses for depth within their discipline and breadth in other disciplines. Introductory online learning modules for industry executives will be available to Stanford students to advance their basic understanding of the smart grid outside of their departments.

This two-pronged approach will converge in several ways. A monthly Bits & Watts seminar at Stanford will bring together sponsors and students to hear from thought leaders on grid modernization. In addition, sponsoring organizations will be able to assign their researchers to work at Stanford as visiting scholars. Similarly, Bits & Watts hopes to establish internship opportunities for its students at sponsoring organizations.