University electrical engineering lab recognized by national magazine

By Emily Gurchiek, Chattanooga, TN—A leading national magazine in the power industry recognized UTC’s electrical engineering lab for the unique partnership of

Photo by Mary Gower Back in the lab: (From left) Zoe Braden, a Chattanooga sophomore, and Jordan Hughes, a Greenbrier, Tenn., junior, frequently occupy the engineering lab to become workforce-ready after they graduate.

Photo by Mary Gower
Back in the lab: (From left) Zoe Braden, a Chattanooga sophomore, and Jordan Hughes, a Greenbrier, Tenn., junior, frequently occupy the engineering lab to become workforce-ready after they graduate.

the University and industry.

According to Transmission and Distribution, a leading national magazine in the power industry, UTC’s relationships with the power industry in Chattanooga is different than most. Combining the industry and the University produces workforce-ready students after graduation and is much needed.

Ahmed Eltom, head of the electrical engineering department, started the electrical engineering lab over a decade ago. He said the lab allows students to use top quality equipment they will be using when they graduate.

“This is one of the very few labs where you can test whether the system works in the lab before you try it in the field,” Eltom said. “So, instead of taking four or five years to train, we train our students here, which differentiates us from other universities.”

John Avitt, a former UTC student who now works for TVA, said he thought his hands-on experiences with the protective relays in the lab environment were recognized by his interviewers and helped set him apart from other graduating seniors.

The University does not have to pay any extra for the lab.

Eltom received a $2.4 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the top quality equipment was donated from industries around Chattanooga.

The industries have an agreement with the University to let them use the lab to train current employees on how to use this technology.

Current engineers must be trained to use this equipment, especially the smart grid, because this is an up and coming technology.

But, Avitt said he believes students that are already trained in this technology, like UTC students, are more likely to get a job and is a positive experience overall.

“More experience for the student often means less training for the employer to provide,” Avitt said. “This also helps students to have a better feel for whether he or she wants to pursue this particular career.”