Population Health

August 9, 2022

Teaching students about microgrids advances Indigenous energy sovereignty

Image of a solar panel in undeveloped terrainIndigenous tribes are historically reliant on U.S. energy production. In the past two decades, the development and implementation of microgrids on Indigenous land has allowed several tribes to move toward energy sovereignty.

Northwest Indian College (NWIC) Professor Stephanie Bostwick has been instrumental in building on this progress by shifting the engineering curriculum at NWIC towards a renewable energy focus and educating students on microgrid infrastructure. In collaboration with UW researchers from the Clean Energy Institute (CEI) and engineering departments, Bostwick developed a plan for educating her students on clean energy solutions through hands-on microgrid infrastructure work on campus.

Bostwick and her students are currently working on a microgrid feasibility study and plan to present their findings later this year to Säzän Group, Inc., which has been instrumental in working with tribes in the past to implement microgrids on their reservations. Bostwick plans to expand the curriculum in the future to include even more students in this interdisciplinary microgrid education approach to energy solutions.

There are more than 90 tribes represented at NWIC, so engaging students through this program allows them to better understand and advocate for clean energy solutions in their own communities, ultimately furthering Indigenous energy sovereignty as whole.

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