Robert W. Galvin Center at IIT

The Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation at Illinois Institute of Technology is a major university initiative to improve the reliability, security, efficiency, and sustainability of the nation's electrical grid and overcome obstacles to the effective adoption and implementation of the Smart Grid.

The Center brings together researchers, industry, government, and innovators to "plug-in" to IIT's smart microgrid, research laboratories and technology park, creating a hub - or sandbox - for new innovations in advanced grid technology.





State-of-the-Art Facility

In January 2012, the Galvin Center completed and moved into a new, state-of-the-art facility designed to house, microgrid research, demonstration and education activities.

Located on the 16th floor of the IIT Tower, the 16,000-square-foot center contains offices, exhibition rooms, classrooms and student workrooms, acting as a hands-on experience center for Smart Grid, microgrid and energy technology and education. The $3 million project was funded by the State of Illinois, U.S. Department of Energy and IIT.


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What We Do


The Galvin Center partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the first-ever Perfect Power microgrid - an electric system that will not fail - at IIT's main campus in Chicago.

Beginning in 2008, this $13 million partnership has developed the first functional smart microgrid in the country. This flagship system will confront and model - for other campus environments, municipalities, community developments, and more - a solution to the nation's energy crisis.

The revolutionary smart microgrid is designed to eliminate blackouts, cut its peak load by 20 percent and integrate more distributed renewable energy resources. Major project investments include the following.
Redesigning the old campus radial distribution system into a looped high reliability distribution system equipped with smart switches for enhancing reliability.
Installing new distributed energy resources (roof-top solar panels, wind generation units, large scale battery systems, and charging station for electric vehicles).
Creating smart buildings equipped campus, building, and sub-building energy management systems.
Yearly, the grid saves the university an estimated $1 million dollars in electricity costs and costs associated with blackouts. In addition to eliminating blackouts, the Perfect Power system can be operated as a stand-alone power system, or islanded system, in the case of grid contingencies.
The Galvin Center leadership is working with entities across the world to replicate and scale the microgrid model for communities, military bases, corporate parks, sports facilities, and other universities.


Wind Energy Consortium

The Galvin Center is leading a world-class University-Industry Consortium for Wind Energy Research, Education, and Workforce Development. Funded through a competitive, $9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the consortium is a diverse pool of public- and private-sector members working together to improve wind power reliability and performance, lower the price of wind energy, encourage greater integration into the utility grid, and build an educated workforce to drive the industry - key challenges identified in the DOE's "20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030" report.

Wind Turbine Research
The consortium's research initiatives focus on improving the reliability and performance of wind turbine technology, and optimizing its integration into the nation's electric grid. The technology created through this project will provide a framework to incorporate wind energy into the utility grid at a high quantity which will, in turn, position the United States at the forefront of the wind energy industry.

The consortium currently operates three advanced wind turbines for research purposes. The emerging technology being used in this project is new to the wind industry and has incredible potential to minimize the risks associated with using wind units for electricity generation. The insight gained from these turbines and associated research will provide a large first step in the effort to lower the cost of wind energy.


Smart Grid Cluster

Over the past year the Galvin Center has launched the Illinois Smart Grid Regional Innovation Cluster, a consortium of innovation and economic development institutions working together to develop an emerging smart grid technology cluster in Illinois.

The cluster is funded by a $1.2 million contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and includes local partners Clean Energy Trust, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, and O-H Community Partners.
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Electric Vehicles

On March 19, 2012, the Galvin Center opened the "Smart Electric Vehicle Charging Station" at IIT. The setup includes nine electric vehicle charging stations, including one of the first DC Quick Chargers in the nation, which can charge an electric vehicle in approximately 15 minutes.

In addition to the DC Quick Charger, IIT's new charging station includes six new “Level 2” stations that can charge an electric vehicle in five to six hours, and two additional chargers for electric vehicles in the I-GO car sharing program. The chargers are free and open to the public, providing a convenient charge for electric vehicle drivers on nearby Lake Shore Drive and the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The "smart" in the new electric vehicle charging station come from its connection to IIT's Perfect Power microgrid, one of the first smart grid deployments in the world, on which it coordinates charging with on-campus battery installations and building load management to minimize the impact of daytime electric vehicle charging on the campus electric bill.

The new charging stations were donated by Eaton Corporation to IIT for demonstration on the IIT Perfect Power microgrid, with funding for installation coming from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solar Energy

Smart Solar

The Galvin Center has begun Phase I of a next-generation smart solar installation on the IIT microgrid testbed. The 60kW rooftop solar array and corresponding 60kW battery system that make up Phase I will serve as a living laboratory and testbed for new smart solar control technologies. The integration of distributed energy resources is essential to the advancement of smart microgrids. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and IIT.

Pending the receipt of additional funds, IIT will complete the full scope of its smart solar installation - a 1.4 MW Rooftop Smart Solar PV array across 17 buildings on the IIT microgrid.

SunShot - DOE and City of Chicago

The Galvin Center partnered with the City of Chicago Department of Environment, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and West Monroe Partners to win a $750,000 federal grant to help speed the adoption of rooftop solar deployment in Chicago.

The project will create an expedited solar permit process with online applications and applicant education materials that are transferable locally and regionally. The team is also working to implement a formal best practice solar zoning policy and develop solar-ready building standards.

Workforce Training and Education

The energy industry is at a tipping point - facing a paradigm shift in the way that energy is produced, delivered and used. Increased demand for power has put a strain on the aging infrastructure of the United States power grid, causing it to become increasingly overloaded and unstable. Reorienting the nation's urban and energy infrastructure around platforms of efficiency, sustainability, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions represents perhaps the greatest engine for innovation, job creation, and economic productivity growth in coming decades.

In June 2011, the Galvin Center released a landmark report outlining the skill deficiencies of the existing workforce to meet the demands and needs of the Smart Grid economy of the future. The report found that the technologies and systems introduced through Smart Grid initiatives will require a new, highly-trained and flexible workforce to fully realize the smart grid promise. The future workforce will be vital to deploying and maintaining this national clean-energy smart grid infrastructure. Growing and training the smart grid workforce will only be possible if the industry commits to intensive, sophisticated, and integrated workforce-development initiatives.

To address this critical issue, the Galvin Center is undertaking a $12.6 million project, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Illinois, to educate and train the nation's workforce to meet the global challenges and opportunities of the smart grid. Current course offerings include:

Education at the University Level

As smart grid technologies are introduced and two-way communication becomes enabled, the need for smart grid-related engineering education will be pressing.

The work for smart grid curriculum development through the IIT Smart Grid Education and Workforce Training Center has already begun. Beginning in the Fall Semester of 2010, two graduate level smart grid classes (ECE 581- Elements of Smart Grid and ECE 580- Elements of Sustainable Energy) have been offered with the development of others ongoing. Curriculum to be developed includes both graduate and undergraduate level courses.

Early Smart Grid Education

With more than 400,000 students in more than 600 elementary and high schools, CPS is the third largest school district in the country. The CPS student population is 91% minority and over 75% live at or below the poverty threshold.

IIT has established a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to train high school teachers via down-to-earth courses, workshops, and webinars on smart grid, plug-in hybrid cars, and sustainable energy topics.

One of the top priorities in CPS and the City of Chicago is to provide unique learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. To help CPS accomplish that goal, IIT, in partnership with Siemens Industry, Inc., hosts and supports an innovative eight week summer program for CPS students who are residents of the Chicago Housing Authority.

Curriculum focuses on training students in smart grid and sustainability issues that prepare students to transition easily to post-secondary study at a community college or university and entry into the workforce.

Smart Grid Education for the Public and Others

The center is providing various webinars on various topics including smart grid, sustainability, electric vehicles, wind energy generation, and others. These webinars will be available through the channels of education through the center and also for general public education and awareness.

Technical Certification

Community college members of the Galvin Center are collaborating with IIT to develop and offer certificate courses and pre-engineering courses on smart grid that will prepare students for transferring seamlessly to IIT to complete a four-year degree program on smart grid. The Galvn Center's philosophy maintains a strong focus on encouraging more American, women, and minority, students to pursue engineering degrees and careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

This collaborative process will provide diverse opportunities for community colleges to work with the Center, including assisting the Center in understanding the training needs of students at Community Colleges; collaborating with the Center to create curriculum and certificate programs for Community College students; working with IIT to create 2+2 articulation programs to facilitate student transition to IIT to pursue a four year or graduate degree program; and collaborating with the smart grid Center on creating workshops and webinars.

Professional Training

The Galvin Center offers three- to five-day short courses throughout the year on smart grid technologies, including delivering tailored education programs created to meet the specific needs of participating corporate and Labor Union partners. Many of the jobs impacted by smart grid energy efficiency initiatives are occupations that have significant labor participation: electricians, carpenters, sheet metal workers, HVAC, and transportation workers. The Center enjoys the support of the major Labor Unions in the Midwest region as well as the umbrella organizations that represent them, including the AFL-CIO, the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council.

IIT-Korea Smart Grid Partnership

The center leadership is helping to lead the Illinois-Korea Smart Grid R&D Collaboration, a multi-million dollar international public-private partnership to accelerate the development of smart grid-supporting technology.

As part of this collaboration, the university has signed memorandums of understanding with the Korea government and companies to support sponsored research in the areas of Distributed Energy Resource Integration, Microgrids, Workforce Development, and Building Energy Management Systems.




©2012 Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation.