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NMSU’s power engineering program addresses global energy challenges

New Mexico State University’s Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s power engineering program is focusing on global energy challenges such as how to ensure a clean, safe, reliable and resilient energy supply for the United States and worldwide, while safeguarding equitable access to energy for all demographic groups.

NMSU’s Electric Utility Management Program is a concentration track and research program within Electrical and Computer Engineering, which has produced numerous leaders, since its inception in 1952, who are addressing a variety of challenges of today’s electrical infrastructure.

“NMSU is uniquely prepared and qualified to effectively combine utility and industry research with educational expertise in power engineering through our Electric Utility Management Program,” Associate Professor Olga Lavrova said.

The Electric Utility Management Program at NMSU has a significant impact on upward mobility of New Mexico students. Graduates create and test complex hardware and software technology that improves the world. NMSU Electric Utility Management Program alumni are simulating, testing and developing the protective infrastructure for microgrids, electric vehicles and utility-scale equipment, as well as working in transmission and distribution planning with renewable energy and distributed energy resources.

“First and foremost, we must continue to motivate students to consider power engineering and power electronics as exciting careers, and we achieve this through both what we teach in the classroom and experimental research in our teaching labs,” Lavrova said. “That is our job, and our commitment is to maintain an outstanding and exciting teaching program.”

NMSU’s Electric Utility Management Program not only helps to develop a foundation for students to pursue rewarding, lucrative and exciting careers but also produces industry leaders in utilities, government agencies, research labs, engineering and consulting firms and more. The program’s goal is to produce competent graduates to secure the regional, national and global cyberspace and build a professionally-trained cybersecurity workforce.  

With an influx of electric vehicles and solar-powered homes, electrical power and power electronics research is needed now more than ever. The vision for NMSU’s Electric Utility Management Program is to maintain programs in electric energy systems education, research and outreach, and related interdisciplinary areas, that provide the highest value to electric utilities stakeholders such as El Paso Electric, PNM Resources and electric co-ops within New Mexico and the surrounding areas.

Undergraduate, master’s degree and doctorate students have been employed by Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Intel, Dell, NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Lower Colorado River Authority, Arizona Public Service, Timmons Group, Freeport-MoMcRan, El Paso Electric, Burns and McDonnell, Las Cruces Utilities, Siemens and more.

“This project team is empowering new and continuing education students to become not only competent and well-informed engineers, but also influence major technological, social and policy decisions that address critical global energy challenges,” Lavrova said.

Current power engineering projects include work on solar development, grid safety and stability research. A recent and significant project involves the research work and demonstration at Aggie Power, a three-megawatt solar and battery energy storage installation, which is an El Paso Electric and NMSU collaboration, that provides clean renewable power to the NMSU Las Cruces campus.

In May, Lavrova began working on the “Advancing Clean Energy and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure for the City of Las Cruces” project. Her research team is evaluating suitable locations of land available for solar photovoltaic installations, including community solar, and electric vehicle charger installations.

“The faculty remains committed to attracting students into power through outstanding teaching and challenging research opportunities,” she said.

As a co-principal investigator, Lavrova is preparing to begin work on the Western Grid Security Innovation Center’s “Erroneous Alarms and Malicious Events Detection” project, which is led by Arizona State University. This project will specifically concentrate on cybersecurity for electric utilities and co-ops, in order to increase technology that keeps the grid safe from cyberattacks.

“It is critical to strengthen industry efforts to attract students through internships and co-op programs, and to attract them to full-time positions through competitive salaries and challenging careers,” Lavrova said. “And, together we must define the new skill sets our students must acquire and create curricula that deliver these skills. We remain committed to meeting this challenge.”

While preparing students for the workforce is important, Lavrova said having students who represent the regional population is significant as well.

“The program prides itself in reflecting the regional demographics, with almost 65% of the 350-plus graduates being from underserved populations,” Lavrova said. “We have a significant diversity across multiple ethnic and racial groups, as well as 26% female participation in the program. This is an exceptionally high women participation in any power systems area of research and is one of our utmost priorities.”

For more information on the Electric Utility Management Program, visit or email