A company founded by Rochester Institute of Technology alumnus Michael Oshetski has donated its groundbreaking technology to the school for a new campus learning lab.
Micatu Inc.’s Gridview optical sensors will allow faculty and students to monitor renewable integration and manage the addition of distributed energy resources onto the campus microgrid. The donation of the equipment for an outdoor learning laboratory also includes $150,000 in funding for research projects related to assessing power quality, big data analytics and infrastructure.
“The utility industry is often considered old and slow to move and therefore not considered innovative for new college engineering grads. As an industry, we are not attracting the talent we need to drive the next generation of grid modernization,” said Oshetski, a 2003 electrical engineering program graduate and founder and CEO of Micatu. “Micatu is helping the industry bridge the gap to modernization with a revolutionary power quality measurement technology platform that provides unprecedented visibility into what’s happening on the electric grid. I hope the use of our optical sensors at this microlevel demonstrates that the industry is open to innovation and that students will get excited about potential opportunities to be part of creating the modern grid.”
Micatu and electricians from Rochester’s O’Connell Electric installed the optical sensors onto RIT electrical facilities. The sensors will provide vital information about voltage and current on the grid needed to measure and predict system fluctuations and patterns. The data can be used to mitigate outages and failures before they occur, officials explained.
Microgrids today consist of alternative energy sources — hydropower and solar power, for example — and although they may be smaller than some traditional utility grids, they can provide needed supplemental energy resources. The key aspect of Micatu’s system is its use of more cost-effective optical technology, as well as its ability to provide timely analytics to regional providers.
“Micatu’s donation adds tremendous value to the College of Engineering Technology’s strength and focus in the area of fiber optics and optoelectronics research and education,” said Manian Ramkumar, dean of RIT’s College of Engineering Technology. “The optical sensors will serve as hardware training tools at the undergraduate and graduate level and will enhance our ability to teach power distribution grids and the effective measurement of power quality on transmission lines. This donation also highlights the power of collaboration between our engineering schools and utilizes our individual strengths for the benefit of the donor.”
Course development will include topics related to use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, data analysis and microgrid management. Tomorrow’s engineers will not only need to understand the electrical engineering aspects of the grid but will also require a background in the data sciences to collect and analyze a wide range of information that will be critical to managing the grid’s changing topography, officials noted.
“Michael Oshetski is a perfect example of an RIT alumnus who is making a difference and improving the world,” said Doreen Edwards, dean of RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering. “Mike co-founded a company that developed optical sensor technology to improve the electric grid’s efficiency and resiliency. Through his gift, we are able to build a real-world lab where our students can learn about the complexities of designing a smart grid that will continue to incorporate more renewable energy sources.”