ECE 586 Communication and SCADA Systems for Smart Grid

This is an introductory course on communication technologies and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems for smart electric power applications. The fundamental concepts, principles, and practice of how communication systems operate are introduced and the function of main components reviewed. Application of communication systems for electric power, in particular SCADA architecture and protocols are also introduced. The course includes hands-on experience with typical intelligent electronic devices interconnected by a communication system. 3 credit hours.


• Prerequisite

Basic courses or knowledge in electric power systems, microprocessor-based embedded computer systems and power system protection.  An undergraduate course in electric power systems (ECE 305 Principles of Electromechanical Energy Conversion) is helpful but not strictly required.

• Course Objectives

The objective of this course is provide power system engineering students with a basic understanding of communication systems concepts and principles as applied to electric utility applications. One of the key enabling technologies for the emerging “smart power grid” is the advanced communication technology. Hence, it is becoming imperative for power system students to have an understanding of the communication technologies and their use for the smart grid. This course serves as an interdisciplinary course to prepare students to be knowledgeable in these critical and relevant areas of communications, cyber security and their use for the smart grid. The stress is on practical experience with using utility-specific communications technology rather than on theoretical communication concepts.

Specifically this course focuses on electric utility communications system topics related to:  physical layer communications, switching networks and layered protocol, serial communications, Ethernet, wireless local area networks, TCP/IP network protocol, SCADA and substation automation, DNP3 protocol, distribution automation and field area networks, IEC 61850, utility cellular communications, advanced metering infrastructure, and cyber security.  Lab exercises are also included to cover basics of configuring intelligent electronic devices for SCADA applications and the analysis of both DNP3 and IEC 61850 protocols using Wireshark.   

• Course Requirements

There will be a midterm exam, a final exam, lab exercises, a semester project and homework assignments,  Course grade weighting is as follows:

Homework: 15%
Lab Exercises: 15%

Semester Project 10%
Midterm Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 35%

• Textbook

Computer Networks, Tanenaum and Wetherall, 5th edition, ISBN-13: 978-0132126953.

Practical Modern SCADA Protocols, Clarke and Reynders, 2004, ISBN-13 978-0750657990, (available at NCSU library website as eBook).

• Computer and Internet Requirements

NCSU and Engineering Online have recommended minimum specifications for computers. For details, click here.

• Instructor

Dr. David Lubkeman, Research Professor
Box 7911
NCSU Campus
Raleigh, NC 27695

Phone: 919-513-2024
Web Site:


  Dr. Wenye Wang, Professor
MS Comp Networking-ECE
Engineering Building II (EB2) 3056, Box 7911
NCSU Campus
Raleigh, NC 27695
Phone: 919-513-2549
Fax: 919-515-5523
Web Site: