Friday, 15 March 2013

Starting Graduate School, but what courses to take?!

As some of you know I recently got accepted into the Masters of Engineering program (electrical engineering). I decided to pursue a Masters of Engineering over the Masters of Applied Science degree because I no longer have any interest in doing research and continuing my studies in nanotechnology. I have decided I want to pursue a career in working with power companies.

Right now I have been researching about what courses I want to take that would help me after graduation (plus my professor wants me to send him the list of courses I plan to take asap!). I want to work in the energy sector dealing with 'power systems'. Here is the list of courses I have been looking at:

1. Power System Analysis

Transmission and distribution; phasors, complex power; balanced/unbalanced three-phase operation; symmetrical components, sequence networks; voltage regulation; short circuit capacity; circuit breakers; transmission lines, series/shunt impedance; short, medium, and long line models.

2. Computer Applications in Power Systems

Power system monitoring/control; large networks; automatic generation control; optimum power flow calculations; traveling wave transmission lines; EMTP and MATLAB programs for transients, short-circuit, and transient stability analysis.

3. Power Systems Protection

Analysis of disturbances, security of power systems, cascading and blackouts; role and impact of protection; transducers and measuring elements; protection of transmission and distribution systems; protection of generators, substation equipment, special protection systems and relays. Optimization of Power System Operation Application of linear and nonlinear optimization methods in power systems; constrained optimization; optimal power flow; economic dispatch; electricity market; local prices for active and reactive power; security-constrained OPF; state estimation, reliability analysis.

4. Decision Support Methods in Power Systems Operation

Principles; acceptable regions of operation; energy management systems; load flow methods; static and dynamic security; contingency analysis; transient and voltage stability; on-line stability assessment.

5. Dynamic Modeling of Electric Machines and Controls

Numerical aspects of time-domain simulation are reviewed. Dynamic modeling and analysis of power systems components including transformers, induction and synchronous machines, inverters, electric drives and associated controls.

6. Advanced Power Systems Analysis

Computer-oriented analysis of electric power systems with regard to multiphase line constants, steady-state analysis of single and parallel circuits, lightning and switching surges; large-scale solution of power-flow problems; optimal real and reactive power flow.

7. Advanced Power System Control and Dynamics

Synchronous machine modeling; excitation and speed governor systems; enhancing power system damping through excitation or governor control; linear optimal stabilization of power systems; load shedding, generator dropping and other emergency measures; asynchronous operation and resynchronization; nonlinear stability; power-frequency control.

8. Energy Storage Systems - Super Capacitors

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage. Pumped Storage. Other possible technologies. System modeling and control.

Which of these courses would you highly recommend for someone who wants to go work for power companies and why? I have a rough idea of which courses I will be taking, but I want to confirm that they are the right courses to take. Leave a comment on what you think of these courses and why they are good to take. Thank you!


  1. Look into these a little more heavily:1. Power System Analysis
    7. Advanced Power System Control and Dynamics
    8. Energy Storage Systems - Super Capacitors

  2. You may also want to look into exactly what job you want to get, a masters may make you "over-qualified and under-experienced" for the job. Many companies are willing to pay for your masters degree while you work for them.

  3. All of them are good classes to take, but I'd say 1 and 3 are the primary ones.

  4. I agree on 1 and 7, but I would lean towards 3 over 8. 4 is a very practical choice also. Good Luck!

  5. Hey if you can get your hands on the IEEE Color Books, and a Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers, there is a lot of good practical info in them. Worth reading through and having for reference.

  6. Congratulations on entering grad school. I worked at a nuclear power plant for my first professional job. Working for an electric utility was a great place to start my career.

    First question is whether you want to specialize in T&D or power generation. Next is if you want to be out in the field or on a corporate support staff. More theoretical classes will help in corporate while hands on lab courses where you learn to use tools of the trade will help field work. You need to learn how to use tools and meters at least as well as the technicians you will be working with if you want to earn their respect.

    Ultimately, the classes that will do you the most good are based on the interests and quality of the professor. Find one who has research interests and/or professional utility experience (and contacts) which match where you want to go when you're done with school. I've been out of engineering school for 30 years. Professional networking and ability to communicate (written/oral) are the skills you need to develop. Technology will change and you will need to keep up. For example, one of my first classes was "Introduction to Analog Computers". Make sure the professor and you are both passionate about the class you choose. Quite truthfully, if you're any sort of student, you can learn any engineering subject by grabbing the syllabus and checking out the books from the library.

    As a cautionary note and based on personal experience, in general I recommend working in the field for a while before going for an advanced degree.

    Good luck!


    1. I decided to go for the advanced degree because my undergrad degree is in nanotechnology and I can't really get employment in this field of work because i'm lacking work experience and project experience that can relate to this industry. I tried finding jobs in nanotechnology too, but most companies wanted me to have a minimum of a masters degree. So I ended up choosing to go back to school, but instead of continuing with nanotechnology I decided to go with energy systems. I really hope that the advanced degree does not affect me in the future. Thank you for the tips though!

  7. I like and agree on 1. Power System Analysis, 6. Advanced Power Systems Analysis and 7. Advanced Power System Control and Dynamics but others are a very professional choice.
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