GE Digital Partners With Power Companies and Universities to Launch Advanced Control Room Laboratory

November 20, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

GE Digital and Florida Power and Light Company recently debuted a new control lab at the University of Central Florida to uptrain the next generation of automation and control systems experts.

Florida Power and Light Company (FPL) specializes in providing utility solutions. It is reported to be the largest energy company in the U.S. FPL generates its electricity from purchased power, nuclear, coal, natural gas, and solar power plants. 

Recently, software and IIoT service provider GE Digital and FPL celebrated the new Microgrid Control Lab opening at the University of Central Florida (UCF)


A photo showing the control lab at UFC. Image used courtesy of UCF 


Both GE Digital and FPL co-sponsored the creation of the lab, which UCF students will use to simulate and test grid control techniques. The students will research grid security and optimization skills.


UCF’s New Microgrid Control Lab

The new Microgrid Control Lab at UCF will allow students and researchers to simulate the control center of a microgrid. A microgrid is an autonomous, local energy system that supplies power to a manufacturing facility. A microgrid consists of distributed generation, storage, and loads. The system can use solar and other renewable energy sources and battery storage to power a small-scale area. 

Microgrids are often used in remote areas to ensure the continuity of power supply critical businesses during blackouts. They can also be used as an alternative to the main grid in developing economies where electricity is expensive.

In a recent news release, the General Manager of GE Digital’s Grid Software business, Jim Walsh, said, “The Microgrid Control Lab provides unprecedented access to a modern grid control center that enables some of the brightest young minds in the country to collaborate, learn and help reimagine the energy grid of tomorrow.” 

Walsh added, “As renewable energy sources, like solar, continue to expand and evolve, the technology behind the grid has to keep up.”


New Opportunities for UCF Students

Over 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students at UCF are studying control or electrical engineering. The new control lab will provide UCF students with an invaluable physical training resource to expand upon skills to control these energy systems more efficiently. Another 500-plus UCF students wish to pursue a major to further their learning in this area.


A photo showing control technology in the energy sector. Image used courtesy of UCF 


UCF students currently have access to undergraduate programs and the opportunity to obtain certification focusing on sustainable and resilient energy systems. Researchers at UCF are working together to create sustainable and automated energy systems and storage through a faculty collaboration called RISES - Resilient, Intelligent, and Sustainable Energy Systems.

Along with the celebratory opening of the lab, GE Digital announced its offering of a new internship program. The program is intended to provide UCF students with intensive experience in the control systems and power sectors and help students gain analytical and software development skills using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

Overall, UCF students will have access to physical resources and skills through FPL and GE Digital. The two companies are hopeful they can uptrain the next generation of control and automation engineers.