New ASU engineering program designed to broaden solar energy expertise

July 2, 2014

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. ASU solar energy panels Download Full Image

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.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU engineering professor lauded for regenerative biomedical research

July 2, 2014

Arizona State University chemical engineer Kaushal Rege has been recognized by the American Society for Photobiology as an emerging research leader in the field – particularly for the use of photobiology in pursuit of medical advances.

The organization gave Rege its New Investigator Award at the society's recent annual national meeting. Rege chemical engineering lab Download Full Image

Rege is an associate professor of chemical engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

His colleague Tayyaba Hasan said Rege is making “exceptionally strong contributions” to research that melds nanotechnology, molecular engineering and photobiology (the study of the interactions of light – specifically non-ionizing radiation – and living organisms).

Hasan is a professor of dermatology at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Harvard Medical School and a professor in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. She was the founding director of the Office for Research Career Development at Massachusetts General Hospital until 2011. She nominated Rege for the society's award.

Rege has made notable progress with photothermal nanomaterials, using them with polymers and polypeptides to repair body tissues.

His research findings have major implications for repair and regeneration of ruptured intestines, colorectal tissue and the repair of skin and eye injuries, Hasan said.

He is using nanomaterials – gold nanorods – with optical properties that convert light into heat, which can be used to seal together body tissues to help repair the impacts of surgery. He has also used the photothermal properties of gold nanorods to trigger a process that is being shown to kill cancer cells. See information on a Department of Defense website that provides more details about this aspect of Rege's research.

Rege is co-editor of a book that is having an impact on efforts to advance nanobiotechnology research, and is editing a new book that is expected to be a significant reference for researchers using nanotechnology along with cellular and molecular engineering to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.

His work has attracted funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine. In recent years, his research findings have been featured in several leading science and engineering news publications, including Scientific American.

In 2010, Rege also won the Young Investigator Award from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a part of the U.S. Department of Defense, for developing “smart materials” for sensor technology used in military intelligence and defense systems.

In nominating Rege for the American Society for Photobiology award, Hasan also cites his achievements as an educator. In particular, graduate students he has supervised have won major research fellowships and awards for presentations of their research at science and engineering conferences, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual national meeting.

In addition, a number of high school students Rege has mentored have won awards at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering