National and international leaders are promising to take action on global warming, 33 states have adopted renewable energy standards, and some individuals and businesses are looking for more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.
In light of the promising outlook for the renewable energy industry, four institutions in Ohio recently introduced a Master’s program in clean and renewable energy. The program is housed in the http://engineering.udayton.edu/Graduate_Programs/Renewable_Energy_Program/University of Dayton’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department (http://engineering.udayton.edu/Graduate_Programs/Renewable_Energy_Program/) and http://www.cs.wright.edu/mme/future-grad-rce.shtml Wright State University’s mechanical and materials engineering department (http://www.cs.wright.edu/mme/future-grad-rce.shtml).
Students enroll at either WSU or UD and take courses taught by faculty from WSU, UD, Central State University and the Air Force Institute of Technology. With the option of part-time or full-time enrollment and full-time tuition of $3,121 per quarter for Ohio residents or $5,929 for non-residents, the program is designed to be affordable and flexible to suit the needs of students at different stages of their careers.
While the program is housed in mechanical engineering departments, the directors said they would like to attract students from a variety of backgrounds, including chemists and chemical engineers.
“Renewable and clean energies need a lot of different viewpoints to advance the field,” said James Menart, professor of mechanical and materials engineering at WSU. “If we have a lot of different viewpoints attacking this problem, the field will advance quicker, so it is my desire to bring other types of engineers into the program besides mechanical and materials.”
The University of Dayton has a strong fuels program including biofuels, while Wright State has a strong fuel cells program. Other areas of particular interest to chemists and chemical engineers include energy efficiency, sequestering carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and developing materials for batteries, supercapacitors, and photovoltaics.
For a more intensive graduate program, <a href=”http://www.res.is/”>The School for Renewable Energy Science</a> in Iceland (http://www.res.is/) offers a one-year Master’s degree, with specializations in Geothermal Energy, Fuel Cell Systems & Hydrogen, Biofuels & Bioenergy, Hydropower, and Energy Systems & Policies.
RES also offers a summer school program for undergraduate students and one to three day short courses for executives and managers.
Another option for exploring the renewable energy field is the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Research Participant Program (http://www.nrel.gov/employment/research_participants.html). Visiting scholars participate in ongoing research at the laboratory and can develop their own areas of research to pursue at their home institutions. Post-doctoral positions are posted on the NREL website; faculty wishing to pursue a sabbatical at NREL also work through the RPP.
As a freelance science writer, Barbara Maynard has reported on the use of wind power in rural Alaskan villages, energy efficient building techniques and the future of solar technologies. Some of her work can be seen in archived issues of Chemistry magazine.