In 2005, Oregon Institute of Technology was the first university to establish a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering. The program begins with laying a physics, chemistry, and math foundation and later leads into coursework in electrical and mechanical engineering. Students take upper-level courses in areas such as photovoltaics, energy managements, wind power, biofuels, green building, biomass energy, and fuel cells. Other universities with similar degree programs are the State University of New York in Canton, Illinois State University in Norman, and Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Architectural schools are also implementing green building certification programs such as Boston Architectural College, which has a certification program in sustainable design.
More community colleges are also starting renewable energy education programs. Some are offering one-year certificates and two-year associate degrees in building and installing clean-energy systems. Lane Community College, in Eugene, Oregon trains renewable-energy technicians in a two year program to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses and install solar-power and wind-power systems. There are several other programs that specialize in solar power installation training.
I believe that we will be seeing much more of these programs, especially if the economy recovers, and more people are investing in renewable energy companies and building or retrofitting to have energy-efficient homes. In addition, the Obama administration has a goal of creating more green energy jobs. It will be interesting to see if renewable energy engineering ever becomes a core engineering discipline in the future.