CURENT is the acronym for the Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks. The individual components of the name greatly infer what our mission is and as an acronym is well suited to our research. CURENT aims to provide guidance on the benefits of developing a unified national grid system that incorporates modern renewable energy sources with the existing non-renewable generation methods to make transmission and distribution of power more reliable and efficient. CURENT is headquartered at the University of Tennessee and is one of approximately 17 National Science Foundation (NSF) funded engineering research centers (ERC). A unique feature of CURENT is its additional funding from the Department of Energy (DOE). The joint funding from DOE and NSF provide over $3 million dollars annually for research and education outreach.
Research areas range from generation to local consumption and transmission is an integral part to making the grid system work properly. Some of the research areas include:
- Power systems
- Power electronics
- Data visualization
- Cyber security
- Electronic power conversion
- Smart grid technology
- Power markets
- Electric vehicles
- Energy harvesting
CURENT education outreach has multiple projects that span the K-16 grade levels. The philosophy of the center is to increase interest in the lower grades, provide expanded experiences related to electricity in the middle grades, introduce talented students to scaffolded research during high school, and enroll students into the graduate school preparation program during their early undergraduate years. The formation of a pipeline of talent is critical for our success in recruiting talented students that may be future power systems and power electronics engineering students.
Without the support of our partners, we would not be as effective in accomplishing our goals. Through collaborations we are able to produce higher quality programs and research that improves each of our institutions. Our academic research affiliates are:
- Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York
- Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama
In addition to the academic partners, we also have industry partners that have invested time, effort, and funding for projects that enhance their objects and fit into our initiative. As of the end of 2014, CURENT has over 24 industry members that have provided feedback about projects, provided research materials, and contributed to our student’s professional development.