I am a senior in Electrical Engineering and was in school through the Covid-19 pandemic and so witnessed the major shift from in-person to online learning which was a steep learning curve and, in many cases, not executed effectively. This spring I participated in the Microgrid Bootcamp intensive class from May 10th – 14th of 2021 and am very impressed by the overall design and execution of the course in comparison to many others that I have participated in. It was enjoyable and informative which is hard to do for an intensive technical course in my experience, especially when hands-on learning is replaced with online content. 

Some of the factors that I believe contributed to the course’s effectiveness include documentation – expectations of the students were very clear, and an outline for notes was provided which helped with timing, layout, and the overall flow of the course. The cache of google documents (including copies of presentations, notes, excel files, etc.) was extremely well organized and a great resource for referring to information from previous sessions (further encouraged by daily quizzes directly related to content). While I don’t understand the full capabilities of Zoom, it did seem that its capabilities were taken advantage of – the chat was used for questions and discussion throughout and was well monitored, and students were encouraged to keep cameras on as much as possible, which in my experience helps to mimic the feel of an in-person class. 

Each person who presented was obviously well versed in the technical content and enthusiastic about sharing it which was awesome to see in a course that has such a community-oriented focus. In addition, it was quite clear that the presenters were only able to scratch the surface of many of the topics. I really appreciated that even though we were almost always strapped for time, questions were always encouraged and answered thoughtfully and thoroughly. 

In terms of actual content, it was a wide but comprehensive and well-done overview of the generation systems across the state, as well as the problems that are commonly faced, and the programs and projects working to overcome them. The inclusion into the course of introductions/tutorials into programs such as XENDEE, Matterport and the AK Energy Ecosystem Map, and even the Power-the-Grid Microgrid game were all well thought out and 

have obvious potential to assist us in furthering our own education individually which I thought was extremely useful addition. My only question here is: since XENDEE is such an in-accessible tool (due to cost), is there a more accessible alternative that may be more directly useful for us to be able to operate? However, I do not have any knowledge of the programs available and if this isn’t an option currently, then I agree with the inclusion of the XENDEE skills session as it is an extremely powerful tool. 

For either someone simply interested microgrids or anyone who is invested in supporting rural Alaskan communities, it seemed like each session could easily lead into a more in-depth unit. Barring this option, I would have liked to see either a short discussion or a document listing options for further education on each subject. I think that this could include articles, other classes or trainings available, etc 

By Chris McConnellJune 2nd, 2021