Graduate Education Programs in Wind Energy

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of the North American Wind Energy Academy (NAWEA) is to facilitate the growth of wind power into a cost-effective, high-penetration, sustainable national energy source producing at least 10 times the 2012 electricity production levels. To meet this energy goal, the academy will expedite the creation of a critical new wind energy research and development agenda that bridges education, multiple disciplines, and diverse organizations, and fosters national and international collaborations. The overall goal of the NAWEA Educational Program is to expand the breadth and competence of the wind energy academic community throughout the region by working collaboratively to develop relevant curriculum, courses, degree programs, and/or certificates, with the ultimate objective of enabling the US to meet its wind energy goals. The first steps taken by the NAWEA Education Committee in addressing its goals were to articulate a set of potential educational programs of interest to its members, focusing on university graduate and undergraduate programs, with an emphasis on graduate education. These programs were inspired by the discussions and presentations at the 2013 NAWEA Symposium in Boulder, Colorado, and include wind energy course and program certification, and a graduate certificate in wind energy. Before proposing any new programs, however, it was decided that a thorough review of existing programs in the US and abroad was merited. This review showed that there are at least 45 four year educational institutions in the US that currently have wind energy engineering courses, with most offering a technical undergraduate course on the subject and with 20 offering graduate courses on the subject. Of the institutions offering graduate programs 40 have MS programs and 30 have programs that offer both MS and PhD programs. In addition, at least six schools offer a Graduate Certificate in Wind Engineering. Another area of interest here is the schools that have established wind energy centers, or renewable energy centers that include wind engineering. Fifty-seven such centers were identified. Expanding the scope of this outside of the US but within the footprint of NAWEA, 12 wind energy graduate programs were identified in Canada. In Mexico, the Mexican Center of Innovation in Wind Energy (Centro Mexicano de Innovación en Energia Eólica, CEMIE-Eólico) was found to have 14 university participants out of its 32 founding members. In Europe, the wind energy education programs are somewhat more advanced than in North America. There are quite a number of wind energy education programs in Europe. The most notable of these are affiliated in some way with the European Master in Renewable Energy or the European Academy of Wind Energy (EAWE). With regards to EAWE, there are about 65 universities participants across Europe. The purpose of this presentation will be to summarize the existing programs in wind energy, both in North America and Europe, and to describe the content of typical wind energy graduate programs. Discussion will then be directed at a proposal for a graduate certificate in wind energy that leverages the resources available at NAWEA member universities and partners, with the intent of collaborating on offering a robust and rigorous set of courses focused on wind energy, beginning with engineering but potentially spanning the range of applicable subject areas from business and policy to environment and engineering. The focus here is to enable training of graduate-level students that will be integral to advancing ideas, business, and engineering.

Acker, T. L., Manwell, J. F., Mcgowan, J. G., & Swift, A. H. P., Jr. (2015, June). Graduate education programs in wind energy. Paper presented at the North American Wind Energy Academy 2015 Symposium, Blacksburg, VA.