New ASU engineering program designed to broaden solar energy expertise
Engineers who will help lead renewable energy development in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, are getting the specialized training they’ll need through a new solar energy education program at Arizona State University.
The three-week Solar Energy Engineering & Commercialization certificate program geared for professionals in the solar energy industry focuses on the technologies involved in the field, as well as the production and applications of solar energy.
The curriculum also emphasizes the social and environmental aspects of the industry, as well as project management, finance, economics and supply chain management.
“The combination of technical and nontechnical curriculum makes this a unique learning opportunity,” says Karl Theisen, the associate director of professional and executive programs for Global Outreach and Extended Education in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, which is managing the new certificate program.
The program can be customized to meet specific needs of individual companies, agencies and other organizations.
A custom version of the program was developed to educate engineers with the Dubai Energy and Water Authority (DEWA) through a partnership with Tempe-based First Solar, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of thin-film solar cells.
Through the partnership, First Solar is helping to support the Green Economy for Sustainable Development Initiative launched by Dubai’s leaders. The initial group of DEWA students traveled to ASU’s Tempe campus last fall to study the three-week program. They are among those “who are responsible for the development and management of Dubai’s solar initiatives,” Theisen says. “They were required to complete an applied project in the program, and we were able to tailor these projects specifically to the kinds of energy challenges they are facing in their country.”
ASU’s new program grew out of a joint educational venture between the university, First Solar and the Phoenix Workforce Connection to help professionals in the solar energy industry broaden their skills and to prepare others to enter the industry.
“Our long-term aspiration is to support the advancement of solar energy expertise throughout the United States and in other countries,” Theisen says.
The program can be delivered anywhere in the world but, when hosted at ASU, it includes classroom sessions on the Tempe campus as well as off-site tours of several ASU energy research labs and First Solar’s Aqua Caliente solar energy generating station.
Fourteen ASU faculty members are currently on the program’s teaching staff. Their range of expertise spans engineering, agribusiness, resource management, urban planning, geographical sciences and technology development.
Participants in the program are typically required to have an undergraduate degree in a technology-related area, such as engineering, or other energy industry-related areas, such as environmental sciences and business.