By KEITH SCHNEIDER
3/26/2008 The New York Times Company
AS business and industry are taking more interest in renewable energy, academia is not far behind. Anticipating increased demand for new technical and design skills, colleges and universities across the nation are offering degree programs in the field.
The Oregon Institute of Technology has developed the country’s first four-year undergraduate degree program in renewable-energy systems. This year the program is training 50 students and will graduate its first class.
The institute’s degree requires basic knowledge in engineering, electrical circuits, motors and generators, thermodynamics, heat transfer and the language of computers. Then come specialized courses in photovoltaics (solar energy research and technology), wind, biomass (the recycling of biological material), hydropower and geothermal energy development.
Robert Bass, 33, the assistant professor who directs the program, said his students would be applying their new bachelor of science degrees in a range of design, engineering, installation, auditing and programming careers in the region’s expanding green-power sector.
“We’re constantly getting phone calls from renewable-energy companies who advertise jobs,” said Dr. Bass, adding that two of his graduating students were already employed full time. “A student graduating from this program has a range of choices about where they want to start their careers. And starting salaries are very good.” READ MORE »