Online FERC Bootcamp Energizes Student Learning

In mid-December, the Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth hosted an educational bootcamp led by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Branch Chiefs Jay Matson '91 and Nancy Bowler '82. This three-day online series gave students from Dartmouth (as well as other universities such as Duke University, Swarthmore College, University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Cornell University) a chance to learn about how electricity markets are regulated and what the FERC does.

While this was the second time the Institute offered the FERC Bootcamp, it was the first time it was offered online. Attended by around 30 students, each of the two-hour sessions offered a mix of lecture, Q&A, and hands-on activities to provide a solid foundation for students seeking to expand their energy knowledge in a short period of time.

"The beauty of a bootcamp is that it's short and intense," explained Institute Academic Director Amanda Graham. "So, you learn a lot in a very short period of time. Energy is a hugely complex area to learn and act in, and we would love to offer a range of bootcamps to give students opportunities to really dig into critical topics. The FERC bootcamp provides a fascinating behind-the-curtain view of how the electric grid actually works from Dartmouth alumni who live and breathe energy regulation every day."

While the online format has its limitations, Institute Experiential Learning Coordinator Kate Salamido was impressed by how the participants were able to collaborate well with one another over Zoom. "The atmosphere in the 'room' was energetic and engaged," she said. "Students asked lots of questions during the Electricity Markets 101 and FERC case studies sessions. Students were excited to play the 'Power the Grid' online game in teams, and some teams far outscored the instructors!"

Graham noted that the Institute hopes to run the FERC Bootcamp in late 2021 (in person, with any luck!) and plans are in the works to host an online bootcamp on another aspect of energy and society during the spring 2021 term.