Graduate Renewable Energy Certificate program finds interdisciplinary success

With an online format, working professionals, their schedules and locations bring benefits not found in the usual classroom setting

Wind turbines on a snowy desert landscape

Graduate Renewable Energy Certificate program finds interdisciplinary success

With an online format, working professionals, their schedules and locations bring benefits not found in the usual classroom setting

Wind turbines on a snowy desert landscape

According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about a quarter of Nevada’s utility-scale electricity is generated from renewable resources.

Originally funded by the Nevada Renewable Energy Consortium and NV Energy, the University of Nevada, Reno has been offering an online graduate certificate in the topic since 2012 and is open to all students who hold an undergraduate degree in engineering, business management, liberal arts or a related field. Eight of the program’s nine courses also have a 400-level undergraduate section for eligible junior and senior students interested in the courses for elective credit.

"The Renewable Energy Certificate program caters to people from varying backgrounds and provides a comprehensive view of renewable energy challenges and benefits," said Jill Wallace, program coordinator. "Our online courses are designed to facilitate participation in online discussions, case-study analysis, and problem-based learning. Each of our courses has a final project, such as a white paper, case study, or presentation, which become a piece of the student’s work and educational portfolio."

Wallace notes that the GREC program is unique among renewable energy certificate programs, and its curriculum provides students the opportunity to investigate the topic of renewable energy from several perspectives, such as the science of the renewable energies, the business of renewable energy, and the policies surrounding renewable energy.

"The online format of our courses accommodates the schedule of working professionals and allows our students to benefit from the diverse geographic and experiential perspectives of their classmates," said Wallace. "Although the certificate program was originally designed for people working in energy-related businesses, we have a significant number of students who are enrolled in on-campus graduate degree programs, ranging from MBA to science-related to engineering degrees."

“The growth that this interdisciplinary certificate program has had since its development has created a significant impact on the state’s workforce development, advancement, and economy,” said Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering. 

To complete the certificate, students must complete four 3-credit courses with a B or better grade point average and completed within two years of matriculation. This summer, four renewable energy courses will be offered, ENGR 400/600: Alternative Energy Fundamentals, ENGR 420/620: Renewable Energy in the Community and Home, ENGR 430/630 Wind Energy, and ENGR 460/660 Fundamentals of Biofuels. The application for Summer 2020 has a deadline of May 11.

"One fact that we are particularly proud of is the fact that in 60 plus voluntary exit interviews 100% of our students have stated that they would recommend this program to other people who are interested in renewable energy education," Wallace said.

For more information, see the Graduate Renewable Energy Certificate website.

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