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Alectra Utilities substation converted into a lab for Mohawk College students

Energy and Power Utilities lab to be used by Mohawk College students.
Energy and Power Utilities lab to be used by Mohawk College students. Sara Cain, 900 CHML

Mohawk College and Alectra Utilities marked the opening of a first of its kind energy and power lab for students Thursday morning.

READ MORE: Ontario Energy minister promotes expanded electricity program during stop in Hamilton

The decommissioned substation, at Market and Caroline streets in Hamilton’s downtown core, took two years to transform.

Energy systems engineering professor Rubaid Khan says students have been part of this undertaking from the outset.

“Putting all the new equipment in, designing it, drawings, coordinating with Alectra and all the other equipment vendors,” he said.

The little brown brick building, which is now equipped with smart grid technology, will help more than 200 engineering technology students get hands-on training every semester.

“People who have hands-on experience working with this kind of stuff is a rarity,” said president of Alectra Utilities, Max Cananzi. “To have Mohawk College implement programs that graduate students with this kind of knowledge, right here in Hamilton, we thought we have to be part of this.”

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Up until this point, Khan says he has been teaching courses from textbooks and small simulated technology.

The lab allows students to gain experience with transformers, switchgear and power protection equipment.

Students will have access to an environment where they can run simulations that at this point are only being carried out by the U.S. military according to Khan.

“They call this red team, blue team,” he said. “They bring in hackers and they say, ‘here, hack the power protection system and tell us how you did it so that we can then learn and then make the system even more safe.'”

“We will be an academic institution that will have access to that kind of training and simulation environment.”

The lab is part of a 10-year lease with Alectra Utilities.

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