Zach Butkus

Smart Grid Training Education, Bismarck State College

Supervisor, AMI Deployment ComEd, an Exelon Company

Zach Butkus didn’t have high expectations for the Smart Grid online courses offered through the Energy Providers Coalition for Education (EPCE)—he had tried other online education before, and hadn’t been satisfied with his experience.  But while working on a special project for the training department of ComEd, he began discussing his interest in learning more about the smart grid, and his interest in advancing his career.  One of the trainers jumped in, and suggested he try the EPCE online Smart Grid courses.  To his surprise, the courses were a “great experience”.

“I’m not a school lover–but I did enjoy taking these courses,” he said.  Zach ultimately completed three of the four Smart Grid courses sponsored by the Department of Energy: Renewable Energy Sources and the Smart Grid, Operation Considerations and the Smart Grid, and Impact of the Smart Grid.  “It was really user-friendly, and the courses were straight and to the point.”  Rather than merely needing to repeat readings and handouts, “you learned a lot and it was taught to you—explained to you.”  It was almost fun, Zach said, and the information was easy to understand and remember.  “If I did have downtime, I could take a look at it”, but most of Zach’s work was done at home.  Still, he found it easy to balance the courses, work and personal life; especially knowing that he was “learning a lot about what our future is”.              

“I work with the smart meters. I get to see firsthand what the industry is going to look like.”  After taking the courses, Zach is able to say he is ‘ahead of the curve’. “It has helped me a lot. Taking the class… it’s something to be proud of and to take ownership of”. ComEd has recognized Zach and his fellow Smart Grid participants, but he believes more people should take the courses.  “People who have taken the classes are a step ahead… the content was interesting, and there was something new to learn every day. It keeps you motivated to keep learning, and keep going”.