Embedding Global Energy Education into Engineering Technology Curricula: the Development and Implementation of Green Energy and Sustainability ET Minor
The world demand for energy is increasing while conventional energy resources are both fast depleting and contributing to increasing the carbon footprint leading ultimately to global warming, making the renewable energy resources the likely alternative, with emphasis on renewable green energy manufacturing. As a consequence, the renewable energy industry is experiencing a large expansion. Nonetheless, carbon tax and emissions trading legislation are paving the way for environmental accountability and sustainability in the industries. In the light of these demands and due to significant growth of the renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency and sustainability we have also an increased demand for trained engineers and technicians in these areas. This requires the adaptation of the existing engineering curricula to these demands from the perspective of the industry and society. There is a continued need of new courses and laboratories to educate students to work in these rapidly developing industries. Many engineering programs developed minors and even majors in renewable energy field as teaching sustainability and alternative energy on today’s engineering curriculum has become an essential feature. Therefore, it is imperative to create a highly educated workforce who can contribute to overcoming energy challenges. One method of supporting workforce development in future energy solutions is to incorporate new and emerging energy technology directly into required undergraduate coursework.
Engineering education moves into the twenty first century charged with an environmental agenda to respond to wider changes in the society. However, the educators are regularly modifying curriculum content to embrace technological changes into the learning outcomes. On the other hand, renewable energy and sustainability are highly interdisciplinary, crossing over between a numbers of research areas, which makes it quite difficult for it to be covered in one single course.
This minor aims to empower interested students to browse along the technological development in renewable energy technologies and sustainability and to conduct experimental work in these areas of science and engineering. This allows engineering and engineering technology students to explore the principles, characteristics and operation of various renewable energy sources, storage devices, and energy conversion systems. The new learning materials will allow our undergraduate students, to “see and feel” the emerging renewable energy technology through interactive laboratory experiments and learning modules. They also will be provided the opportunities to apply science and engineering principles (STEM) to renewable energy conversion and compare them to actual field test data. These renewable energy teaching modules will also help faculty instructors and teaching assistants to acquire new knowledge and skills in the rapidly growing field of renewable energy and distributed generation.
In this paper, we are discussing a series of developments and new courses included in the new minor developed in our Engineering Technology program, based on student feedback from existing courses and projects, including our senior project design capstone projects, power electronics and renewable energy courses. The Green Energy and Sustainability minor’s framework, new courses and learning modules development, structure and outcomes, lesson learned and future improvements are discussed in details. Design and development of renewable energy and sustainability projects allow students to work on projects that can be relevant to current leading edge research and technology. The development, content and structure of laboratory activities and project-based learning as part of this effort to embed renewable energy into our curriculum are also presented.
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