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Data Center Management in the Power Industry: Career Opportunities for IT Students

December 20, 2013 IADT General, Information Technology 0 Comments

Data Center Management in the Power Industry: Career Opportunities for IT StudentsThe power sector is one of the most important industries in the United States and is currently undergoing a dramatic shift in the way power is managed and delivered to clients. Analogue systems are being replaced by digital systems that require computer savvy operators. If you are a student pursuing Information Technology (IT) and are interested in a career in the power industry, data center management is one area that offers a challenging yet fulfilling opportunity. Trained IT personnel are in demand at power facilities across the nation due to the ongoing implementation of the smart grid.

Smart Grids

The smart grid is a modernized electrical network that relies heavily on information and communication technology to efficiently process generation, transmission and consumer data in an automated fashion to enhance sustainability and economics of electric energy. Smart grids are at the forefront of the digitization of electric power systems being ushered in across the nation.

Making use of smart meters, sensors, digital control and analytic tools in various processes, smart grid systems monitor the two-way flow of information and energy, generating enormous quantities of data that needs to be expertly managed. They are equipped with advanced platforms that allow for distributed computing technology to improve reliability and safety of power delivery and use.

However, as with any system that handles personal data, security becomes a challenge in the face of potential threats from natural disasters and cybercriminals. The major concerns center on the communications technology infrastructure at the heart of the smart grid that can potentially be exploited for criminal or even terrorist actions. Being a relatively new concept that is evolving with the complex challenges encountered, the smart grid needs the expertise of IT personnel to advance its reach and objectives.

Need for IT Expertise

The smart grid technology creates exciting career opportunities across communications, engineering, marketing and sales disciplines. The services of computer software and hardware experts are critical if utilities fully embrace digitization. IT experts are needed to perform various tasks in data center management such as designing and implementing security systems to protect against cyber attacks and other events that can threaten the system. There are several other areas in which new jobs are expected as a result of changes in the power industry, including operations in communications departments and network maintenance in utilities. Since the smart meter program has been rolled out, IT experts are needed to operate and maintain the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) that handles the data transmitted from these meters.

As distributed generation increasingly makes headway into the main transmission grids, energy data is generated at enormous rates and needs to be managed effectively via carefully tailored protocols in the development and management of necessary databases. IT graduates have a wide range of opportunities to contribute to the ever evolving smart grid.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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