Graduate programs

Master programs

There are several degree options available to students wishing to pursue a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at UW–Madison. The three degree options relevant to power systems are:

  • Research—traditional two-year master’s program culminating in a thesis or research project.
  • Professional—accelerated, course-based master’s program with the opportunity to choose a specialty area.
  • Power Engineering—online, off-campus program in power engineering designed for working professionals.

To learn more about each option, please refer to the Graduate School’s Guide or the Department of ECE Website.

PhD program

The PhD coursework at UW-Madison’s Department of Electrical and Computer ensures that all students receive a balanced academic experience, diving deep into their main field of study and being exposed to coursework across disciplines. There are eight specialty areas of study available. Doctoral students are expected to complete Primary, Secondary and Minor coursework requirements specific to their specialty area of study.

All power systems students complete the Energy & Power Systems specialty area for their Primary coursework requirements. Students must complete 21 credits to meet the Primary requirements, choosing from a list of courses available every semester.

Doctoral students must complete 6 credits outside of their specialty area to meet the Secondary coursework requirements. Students choose these based on their personal interests, but many power systems students choose to take similar courses as others in the research group.

Courses satisfying the PhD. Minor must be taken outside of the ECE department. These courses provide the most breadth to students. Anywhere from 9 to 13+ credits can be required, depending on the minor. Recent power systems students have done their minors in everything from Optimization in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering to Energy Analysis and Policy in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Listed here are some of the most common courses taken by power systems students. For a full list of course options, please refer to the Graduate School Guide. More can be learned about the PhD course requirements in the most recent Graduate Student Handbook.

ECE 411 : Introduction To Electric Drive Systems

  • Basic concepts of electric drive systems. Emphasis on system analysis and application. Topics include: dc machine control, variable frequency operation of induction and synchronous machines, unbalanced operation, scaling laws, adjustable speed drives, adjustable torque drives, coupled circuit modelling of ac machines.

ECE 412 : Power Electronic Circuits

  • Operating characteristics of power semiconductor devices such as Bipolar Junction Transistors, IGBTs, MOSFETs and Thyristors. Fundamentals of power converter circuits including dc/dc converters, phase controlled ac/dc rectifiers and dc/ac inverters. Practical issues in the design and operation of converters.

ECE 427 : Electric Power Systems

  • The electric power industry, operation of power systems, load flow, fault calculations, economic dispatch, general technical problems of electric power networks.

ECE 524 : Introduction To Optimization

  • Introduction to mathematical optimization from a modeling and solution perspective. Formulation of applications as discrete and continuous optimization problems and equilibrium models. Survey and appropriate usage of basic algorithms, data and software tools, including modeling languages and subroutine libraries.

ECE 712 : Solid State Power Conversion

  • Advanced course in power electronics which provides an understanding of switching power converters. Included are DC-to-DC, AC-to-DC, DC-to-AC, and AC-to-AC converters, commutation techniques, converter control, interfacing converters with real sources and loads. Offered every third semester.

ECE 714 : Utility Application Of Power Electronics

  • Power electronic application to utility systems is a rapidly growing field with major impact on the industry. Covers material on HVDC transmission, energy storage systems, renewable sources, static compensators, and flexible ac transmission systems.

ECE 723 : On-Line Control Of Power Systems

  • State estimation based on line-flow measurements. Detection and correction of incorrect on-line measurements. Reduction techniques. Network security evaluation. On-line contingency studies and contingency remedial action. Calculation of penalty factors and optimal power dispatch strategies. On-line stability determination. Parallel processors for on-line studies.

ECE 731 : Advanced Power System Analysis

  • Electrical transients due to faults and switching. Effect on power system design and operation. Traveling waves and surge protection. Computerized analysis of power transients.

ISYE/CS/MATH/STAT 525 : Linear Optimization

  • Introduces optimization problems whose constraints are expressed by linear inequalities. Develops geometric and algebraic insights into the structure of the problem, with an emphasis on formal proofs. Presents the theory behind the simplex method, the main algorithm used to solve linear optimization problems. Explores duality theory and theorems of the alternatives.

ISYE/CS/MATH/STAT 719 : Stochastic Programming

  • Stochastic programming is concerned with decision making in the presence of uncertainty, where the eventual outcome depends on a future random event. Topics include modeling uncertainty in optimization problems, risk measures, stochastic programming algorithms, approximation and sampling methods, and applications.

ISYE/CS/MATH/STAT 726 : Nonlinear Optimization I

  • Theory and algorithms for nonlinear optimization, focusing on unconstrained optimization. Line-search and trust-region methods; quasi-Newton methods; conjugate-gradient and limited-memory methods for large-scale problems; derivative-free optimization; algorithms for least-squares problems and nonlinear equations; gradient projection algorithms for bound-constrained problems; and simple penalty methods for nonlinearly constrained optimization.

ISYE/CS/MATH/STAT 728 : Integer Optimization

  • Introduces optimization problems over integers, and surveys the theory behind the algorithms used in state-of-the-art methods for solving such problems. Special attention is given to the polyhedral formulations of these problems, and to their algebraic and geometric properties. Applicability of Integer Optimization is highlighted with applications in combinatorial optimization. Key topics include: formulations, relaxations, polyhedral theory, cutting planes, decomposition, enumeration.

ISYE/CS/MATH/STAT 730 : Nonlinear Optimization II

  • Theory and algorithms for nonlinearly constrained optimization. Relevant geometric concepts, including tangent and normal cones, theorems of the alternative, and separation results. Constraint qualifications. Geometric and algebraic expression of first-order optimality conditions. Second-order optimality conditions. Duality. Nonlinear programming algorithms: merit functions and filters; interior-point, augmented Lagrangian, and sequential quadratic programming algorithms.

EnvSt/URPL/PubAff 809 : Introduction to Energy Analysis and Policy

  • Interdisciplinary seminar for the Energy Analysis and Policy Curriculum. Strategy and policy problems in energy policy, both national and international.

EnvSt​/AAE/​Econ 671 : Energy Economics

  • The method, application, and limitations of traditional economic approaches to the study of energy problems. Topics include microeconomic foundations of energy demand and supply; optimal pricing and allocation of energy resources; energy market structure, conduct, and performance; macro linkages of energy and the economy; and the economics of regulatory and other public policy approaches to the social control of energy.

ME/​CBE 567 : Solar Energy Technology

  • Radiant energy transfer and its application to solar exchangers; energy balances for solar exchangers, review of theory, economics, and practice of solar energy applications.

NE 571 : Economic and Environmental Aspects of Nuclear Energy 

  • Economics of the nuclear fuel cycle. Economic and environmental impact the nuclear fuel cycle. Impact on design, plant siting and regulation.

EnvSt/​PubAff/​PoliSci 866 : Global Environmental Governance

  • In-depth examination of the political and policy challenges posed by global environmental degradation. Analysis of international institutions for managing the global environment.

EnvSt 900 : Professional Skills in Energy Analysis and Policy

  • The goal of this seminar is to bring together EAP students, faculty, and industry professionals to discuss professional skills in energy analysis and policy and facilitate networking between students and industry.