IEEE’s oldest society, Power Engineering, has a new name: IEEE Power & Energy Society. PES, which will keep its old initials, will celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2009, along with IEEE itself.
The new name is more relevant to the interests of current and potential members, points out society president Wanda Reder, and is more inclusive of emerging technologies and better reflects the society’s mission, scope, and fields of interest, she continues. The name also aligns with the name of the society’s Power & Energy magazine.
“We will continue to maintain our core strengths but we need to accommodate emerging technologies, which is more easily done under the banner of our new name,” said Reder when she announced the new name in April at the 2008 IEEE PES Transmission and Distribution Conference.
The society’s 22 000 members voted for the change after the society’s review of industry trends showed an increased focus on power and energy topics such as global warming and climate change, renewable energy sources, distributed power generation, and energy efficiency. In addition, surveys of its members and feedback from student focus groups concluded, among other things, that the previous name conjured up an old-fashioned image and the society’s offerings were not relevant to practicing engineers.
ENERGIZED FUTURE The new name is the most visible example of several steps the society is taking to address the challenges it faces. These challenges include an aging membership, fewer students entering the field, and a record number of power engineers expected to retire within the next four years. Nearly 5500 of the society’s members are over age 50, and a recent survey conducted by the Center for Energy Workforce Development, a non-profit consortium of electric, natural gas, and nuclear utilities and their associations, forecasts that 46 percent of engineers in the U.S. power industry will retire by 2012. And, notes Reder, power engineering programs at universities have been weakened over the past decade because of minimal hiring of new faculty to replace those who retired.
“PES realizes that the demand for technical talent and experience in power and energy is increasing while the forecasts indicate rapid attrition,” she says. “The supply of talent to meet the demand is questionable.”
To ensure an adequate workforce, PES has started the Power and Energy Engineering Workforce Collaborative in partnership with the Center for Energy Workforce Development, the North American Electric Reliability Corp., whose mission is to improve the reliability and security of the bulk power system in North America, the National Science Foundation and the university-based Power Systems Engineering Research Center. This collaboration aims to fatten the pipeline of students interested in engineering careers in power and energy by ensuring they are prepared for a post-high school education. It will also address how to build, enhance, and sustain university power engineering programs.
PES already offers a career Web site that connects college graduates looking for jobs in power and energy with prospective employers. As of April, the site had 70 job openings from more than 100 employers, and résumés from almost 300 graduates.
The society also plans to expand its continuing education programs in several ways—by partnering with employers to offer stand-alone courses, increasing the number of IEEE Expert Now online courses, developing more tutorials targeted at working engineers, and boosting the number of its Distinguished Lecturers who travel to the society’s 180 chapters to share the latest in technical advances.
“Our new name better positions us to work with all professionals [who can help] solve … the problems the power industry faces, such as providing energy to an increasing world population demanding higher living standards, the pressing need to reduce pollution and avert global warming, and expanding the development of wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, nuclear, and energy from the oceans,” says Reder.
“Our task is to address the many challenges that lie before us,” she continues. “We need to take advantage of our heritage and strengths while aggressively pursuing opportunities that will enable us to continue for another 125 years and beyond. Clearly industry needs are changing and so is PES.”
For more information about the society, visit its website.