Power Electronics Curriculum and Certificate at the University of Colorado

Since joining the University of Colorado in 1982, I have developed a substantial new graduate program in power electronics (of course, in collaboration with my colleagues on the faculty here). This curriculum consists of the following:

Photovoltaic Power Electronics Lab

Students at the power electronics lab

Students in PV Power Electronics Lab

ECEN 4517/5517 Photovoltaic Power Electronics Laboratory. Since 2008, this unique laboratory course has involved the design and construction of a standalone photovoltaic power system. Students build a dc-dc converter with digitally-controlled maximum power point tracking, and dc-dc boost converter with analog feedback, and a single-phase inverter. This lab teaches practical aspects of power electronics including layout and grounding, magnetics design, feedback loop design and measurement, and practical control circuitry issues, in the motivating context of a solar power system.

Massive Open Online Courses in Power Electronics

I developed a massive open online course (MOOC), Introduction to Power Electronics, which was offered through Coursera as a nine week course in the Fall of 2013 and again in the Fall of 2014. Altogether, approximately 90,000 learners enrolled in these courses, which must be a record for the power electronics field.

My impressions and conclusions. There were a remarkable number of enthusiastic and highly motivated students from around the world, who appreciated the challenge of nontrivial homework assignments. Indeed it is possible to give machine-gradable assignments that approach the level of on-campus hand-graded assignments. The short concise lecture format, the ability for students to redo assignments based on immediate feedback from the machine grader, and the very active discussion forums lead to a pretty remarkable learning experience.

New offering. Along with my colleagues Dragan Maksimovic and Khurram Afridi, we now offer a Coursera specialization Introduction to Power Electronics. New courses begin monthly. This specialization consists of five one-month courses that roughly cover our on-campus ECEN 5797, plus a one-month capstone design project.

Professional Master's Program in Power Electronics

I am leading the department effort to develop a new professional M.S. degree in power electronics, which will begin in Fall 2016. This will allow us to substantially increase our on-campus and distance offerings in power electronics and related areas, to train the next generation of professionals in this growing area. In addition to the above courses, as well as existing courses in electrified transportation, ac drives, and analog IC design, we will offer new courses in power management ICs, power systems and grid integration of renewables (taught by our NREL colleagues), and independent design experiences.