Wednesday, June 12, 2024

FPL and FAU Unveil New InETech Center

On Friday, the second floor of the Engineering East building on Florida Atlantic University’s Boca Raton campus was buzzing with excitement. Students, faculty, community members and more gathered to witness the unveiling of the new Florida Power and Light (FPL) Center for Intelligent Energy Technologies (InETech). 

This new resource in the heart of Palm Beach County could help to ease many power-related anxieties surrounding this looming hurricane season.

Facilitated by a $1 million donation to the university from the NextEra Energy Foundation, FPL has partnered with FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science to develop the new center. With the goals of improved reliability, efficiency and sustainability at the forefront of this collaboration, the two parties hope to make radical improvements to Florida’s energy sector and a smoother hurricane season for all.

During her opening remarks at the unveiling, Juliet Murphy Roulhac, director of Corporate Philanthropy and External Affairs for FPL, expressed her hopefulness for the future of the community as a result of the InETech center. 

“[The InETech center] will benefit our community collectively for years to come,” said Roulhac.

The InETech center is designed to simulate FPL’s smart grid control center which uses sophisticated technology to track power outages. The center at FAU is made up of 18, 55-inch screens individually controlled to provide real power grid visualization for the students. This technology, coupled with high-performance computers, is going to allow students to gain hands-on experience in their area of study.

FAU Interim President Dr. Stacy Volnick said, “This exciting partnership between Florida Atlantic University and FPL is a giant step forward to address the current and future needs of the energy industry, as we work together to initiate new ideas and insights that will benefit our communities.”

Dr. Yufei Tang, associate professor in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and the director of InETech, outlined the opportunities that the new center will provide for students as they work toward their degrees and enter the workforce. 

“The major purpose of this center is workforce training, getting students prepared to work for FPL or any other related energy industry,” said Tang.

Dr. Yufei Tang, associate professor in FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and the director of InETech, gives his opening remarks at the unveiling of the center on Friday. Photo Credit: Alex Dolce, Florida Atlantic University

Students of various levels of education were available during the unveiling to help explain the several research projects occurring within the center. These projects are largely related to AI-enabled smart grid optimization, renewable energy research and big data analytics. 

PhD student Hassan Mokari explained the extensive research being done in the center surrounding ocean current turbines and harnessing alternative forms of power from the ocean. He went on to express how this immersive research will provide students with the engineering and critical thinking experience needed for the workplace and beyond. 

“This is so important for us to work and to collaborate with the experts and gain a lot of experience. We are learning the technology, we are learning the correlation, simulation, coding, programming, all of it,” said Mokari.

Through conducting further research and elevating the quality of education at FAU, FPL will be able to further improve their own power grid and more efficiently manage their own systems. 

Volnick continued to express these long-lasting benefits of giving FAU students the tools they need to succeed in the energy industry and work toward providing more efficient and reliable power throughout Florida’s hurricane season.

“Importantly, this partnership will support and elevate young scientists and engineers, by equipping them with the high-level skills needed to transform the energy sector,” said Volnick.

Maria Silveira
Maria Silveira
Maria Silveira is the 2024 editorial intern at Boca Magazine. She currently attends Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where she plans on majoring in business and minoring in journalism. She is also a News Editor for Wake Forest’s student-run publication, the Old Gold & Black.

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