Jump-Starting a Skill Set

How one Smart Grid graduate broadened his expertise to prepare for a brighter future

“I've been at PG&E for about 10 years now,” says Fred Brew at the beginning of our interview. “For seven of those years, I consulted on their smart meter project, doing a lot of finance-related work and then project-specific work—modeling and database management. When the smart meter project ended, I came onboard as an employee in finance.”

It was during that consulting work when Brew’s eyes widened at the understanding of how huge the Internet of Things (IoT) and microgrids field is. But how best to accumulate the knowledge necessary to understand the nuances in this burgeoning area? Taking advantage of the opportunity to further his education and tap into PG&E’s tuition reimbursement policy, Brew began classes in the Professional Series in Smart Grid Technology.

Exploring the Future of Energy
The IoT class was eye opening,” Brew says. “I had no idea there would be so many applications nor how huge that sector is going to be five, 10, 15 years from now: so many devices connected to the Internet, and what it's going to do for supply chain and logistics and inventory control, and home and health applications.

"Microgrids applied more directly to PG&E," he continues. “It was interesting and relevant because I’m working at a large utility where community choice aggregation is an enormous issue right now. Microgrids are really going to change the business model for large utilities. They are going to have a huge effect on distributed energy as you won't source energy from one or a few plants. It's going to help enable renewable energy growth.

“If you're at all interested in what's going on in the energy sector and related technologies, these classes are really eye-opening. You will see that there are a lot of opportunities related to smart grid in the future.”

Opportunities Come to Those Who Prepare

smart meters

And, while Brew’s reason for pursuing the certificate was not promotion-based, he is sure that the knowledge he has gleaned has already improved his career opportunities—with potential for even more success in the future.

“I come from the finance and accounting sector. After taking these classes, I have a much broader knowledge base now. Since completing the program, I moved from a hard-core finance position to working in operations and supporting the Central Coast region, which was a bit of a promotion. My experience and previous education were the primary factors in that change, but taking these classes helped put me over the top. It will open more opportunities for me in this sector.”