10 New Jobs Created by the Internet of Things

Grid Modernization Engineers
Technicians monitoring electricity consumption on a power grid in France. © JEAN-PAUL PELISSIER/Reuters/Corbis

The United States power grid is a tangled web of aging equipment, much of which dates back to the early 1900s. In many areas, it's inefficient, unreliable and expensive to operate. A smarter, more modern grid is coming, one that requires the skills of grid modernization engineers.

A smarter grid will affect power use starting right in your own home. If all of your appliances and electronics report their power use to each other, they'd optimize their electricity consumption and maximize efficiency.

Now imagine that kind of communication happening on a citywide or statewide scale. Street lamps, traffic lights, industrial machinery of all kinds, all networked with one another and providing massive amounts of data to streamline energy consumption.

To make that happen, all of these power gobblers must run on a similar platform or operating system. They also have to be secure, lest a band of nefarious criminals turns off all the lights in a major city.

Smart grid engineers must also contend with the challenges introduced by solar and wind power. These systems generate power only when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, so their unpredictability can lead to grid instabilities.

None of this smart grid modernization will be cheap. It could take nearly half a trillion dollars to upgrade our current grid [source: U.S. Department of Energy]. But with some hard work and clever design, there will be less downtime and greater efficiency thanks to the engineers who bring our elderly grid into the age of the Internet.

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