Jun 9, 2024

Florida Atlantic University celebrates ribbon cutting of AI-enabled FPL Center for Intelligent Energy Technologies


On June 7th, Florida Atlantic University’s College of Enginering and Computer Science unveiled the “FPL Center for Intelligent Energy Technologies (InETech).

In 2023, Florida Atlantic University and Florida Power & Light (FPL) agreed to a four-year collaboration to establish the FPL Center InETech as a part of the College of Engineering and Computer Science (COECS) and housed in the state-of-the-art Engineering East building on the Boca Raton campus. Florida Atlantic’s COECS is internationally recognized for cutting edge research and education in the areas of Computer Science and Artificial intelligence (AI), Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Bioengineering, Civil, Environmental and Geomatics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Ocean Engineering.

Engineering East building at Florida Atlantic

A $1 million dollar gift from FPL’s charitable arm, NextEra Energy Foundation, helped establish the FPL Center InEtech.

The foundation supports organizations involved with arts and culture, education, the environment, health, animals and wildlife, affordable housing, human services, neighborhood development, economic development, government administration, and economically disadvantaged people. NextEra Energy provides a dollar-for-dollar match of employee gifts to eligible high schools, colleges and universities. Since 2003, the NextEra Energy Foundation has provided millions of dollars in support to the communities across Florida.

The innovative public-private partnership will boost cutting-edge research in smart technologies, energy sector products and workforce development demanded by modern-day power delivery. This first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence-enabled facility, is designed to replicate FPL’s innovative control center for smart grid, a complex power generation, transmission and distribution network, that uses leading-edge technology to predict and prevent future outages.

Stella Batalama, Dean of College of CS & Engineering @ FAU

The FPL Center for InETech will also serve as a hub for training the next generation of innovators, engineers, researchers and energy leaders fostering cutting-edge research in smart technologies. The four-year collaboration is designed to foster student recruitment and engage undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students in pioneering energy projects. The FPL InETech Center is spearheaded by Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“The FPL/NextEra Energy Foundation gift will have a multiplier effect on Florida Atlantic successes in state-of-the-art research and development and workforce development for the state of Florida and the nation in engineering and computer science disciplines, particularly as they apply to the energy sector,” said Dean Batalama.

Faculty, students, and distinguished community members visit the new FPL Center of InEtech.

FPL, one of the state’s largest employers, has some of the best technology internship opportunities across the state. FPL’s approach to hiring reflects a belief in bringing in diverse backgrounds and experiences to their technical teams. Entry-level interns are often very eager to put their new skills to work and learn from the seasoned professionals and FPL hopes to attract an retain this innovative generation of technical talent. The FPL/NextEra Energy Foundation gift also supports community outreach and K-12 educational activities focused on the energy industry.

“FPL is committed to powering strong communities by supporting partners like Florida Atlantic University and helping students pursue their educational goals and build successful careers, ” said Juliet Roulhac, FPL director of external affairs, Broward and Southwest regions, and director of corporate philanthropy, NextEra Energy, Inc.

Yufei Tang, Ph.D., associate professor and I-SENSE fellow in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will serve as the director of the FPL Center for Intelligent Energy Technologies, and James VanZwieten, Jr., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering, will serve as the center’s associate director.

Yufei Tang, Director of FPL Center for InETech @ FAU

“The FPL InETech Center will provide our students with an immersive learning experience and access to real-world technologies and hands-on simulations that will help them to develop the skills needed to fill high-demand jobs across the region,” said Yufei Tang, Ph.D., director of the FPL InETech Center and an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Advanced equipment will enable them to analyze, explore and simulate data associated with the complex design and operation of microgrids and also will provide a platform to replicate power grids and other energy sources.”

Tang and other researchers in the COECS also developed advanced technologies related to monitoring severe weather events, including hurricanes. For example, the FAU Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE) is the lead technology provider for the South East Atlantic Econet, a large regional network of atmospheric monitoring stations (135 atmospheric stations in Florida – with additional stations managed outside the state).

“We are incredibly grateful for the support and generosity of FPL and the NextEra Energy Foundation as we officially launch the new FPL Center for Intelligent Energy Technologies right here in our cutting-edge building in the heart of Palm Beach County,” said Batalama. “Through this collaborative partnership and our combined knowledge, assets and resources, we will transform the energy landscape in South Florida and well beyond.”

To learn more about Florida Atlantic’s College of Computer Science & Engineering, visit www.fau.edu/engineering