Transforming our energy system from hierarchically structured, fossil fuel resources to a distributed, smart sustainable system is one of the great challenges of our time. In this context researchers target their efforts towards modeling of distribution networks, identifying appropriate communication systems, handling configuration complexity, and algorithms for distributed smart micro-grid networks. The first part of the talk depicts how self-organizing configuration and communication mechanisms can contribute to this goal. The second part of the talk gives an introduction to the smart microgid lab, which provides an experimental environment where motivated students can learn and gain practical experience in the domain of smart grids. Finally, I will give an outlook to projects and collaborations in the smart grid area.