LARAMIE — A University of Wyoming program aiming to produce engineers to address the nation's energy challenges is the first of its kind in the United States to receive national accreditation.
The Energy Systems Engineering (ESE) bachelor's degree program, offered by UW's College of Engineering and Applied Science, received accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. (ABET).
The program aims to produce graduates prepared to help the nation achieve energy independence and continue to meet the growing demand for energy, while simultaneously addressing critical environmental concerns. Coursework is similar to that taken by mechanical engineering students, but with more focus on environmental, ethical, economic, legal and permitting aspects of energy conversion systems. Students may elect to take various courses in alternative energy systems that are expected to play an even larger role in a carbon-constrained future.
The overarching goal of the novel curriculum is to present a comprehensive, or "systems," approach to addressing new energy challenges.
That broad approach has proven valuable for Luke Provart, a Cody High School graduate who earned his ESE degree last December. He landed a job as an engineering technician with Wyoming Completion Technologies in Powell, where he works on tool design for oil and gas drilling companies, drill string design and electrical transmission line design.
"The greatest part, I've found, with this ESE degree is that it gives you such a general and broad perspective of the entire engineering profession," said Provart, who began his studies at UW as a civil engineering major. "It gives you a lot more options."
Other ESE graduates have found jobs in an array of energy-related fields. Employers of graduates include Halliburton, Kiewit Mining, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Alliance for Green Heat (a nonprofit lobbying firm), KB Energy (meteorological data acquisition for potential new wind energy sites) and Stanley Consultants (wind, solar and hydroelectric control systems).
"This innovative program is filling an important need in preparing students for careers in the ever-changing energy field," said Paul Dellenback, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "It's especially important in a state and region with such a diverse energy mix."
The undergraduate program began in 2009 and already has produced 14 graduates. All have found energy-related jobs or have moved on to graduate school.
Also receiving ABET accreditation was UW's Petroleum Engineering program, which is back among the nation's accredited petroleum engineering programs after approximately a 16-year hiatus.
"Accreditation of these programs is a clear signal that we're properly preparing our students for careers in energy-related fields," said Robert Ettema, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. "UW now can move forward more assertively to gain national prominence for these degree programs."
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