2011 Fall Term in Review

I am at home now waiting for Christmas, and that means another semester of graduate school had come and gone. This was my third term as a grad student and also my final term as a Masters student. Because I had to take my doctoral qualifying exams and finish my Master’s thesis, I only took two courses in the past semester rather than three for my previous two semesters. As always, here are my thoughts on the courses.

Power Dispatch and Markets
This was a power systems course, but it was a bit different than the other power courses I’ve taken because this course focuses on some of the economic aspects of the power grid. The course talked about how electricity generation is dispatched in a deregulated market and some of the other functions of independent system operators (ISO). I found the material to be pretty interesting since I didn’t know much about the area.Most of the math was involved with solving optimization problems for generation cost. The math is not hard, but it can be a bit tedious, and sometimes you have to use computer programs such as MATLAB to do the work. Overall it was a good course, and the fact that I got a good grade is even better.

Electromagnetic Fields
One topic that I don’t like very much in power systems is electromagnetic fields, but it is important to know the physics behind electricity and all of the equipment that keep our lights on. This was a graduate level course on fields but with focus on power system applications. In particular the course looked at numerical methods that solves Laplace/Poisson’s equations in terms of potentials. However, numerical methods can’t really be assigned for homework or test problems because it’s impossible to do those problems by hand. In the end, most of the grades came from solving problems based around basic Maxwell’s Equations (Ampere’s Law and Gauss’ Law), and so the course wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be and I received an A for my efforts.

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That’s all I have to say for my fall 2011 courses. Next semester I’ll go back to taking three courses, and one of them looks extra tough. I don’t have to worry about classes quite yet though since I still have a few more weeks to relax before school starts again.

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