T&D World Magazine

Ohio's First Master's Program in Renewable Energy to Help Fill Need for Qualified Workers

Companies in Ohio are applauding the state's first master's program in clean and renewable energy approved by Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut.

"As a leading Ohio solar company, we consider this program to be good news for us, the U.S. solar industry and the state," said Carol Campbell, First Solar vice president of human resources. "We applaud this effort to develop talent that will support the state's leading role in the fast-growing renewable energy industry." Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar operates customer support and manufacturing operations in Perrysburg, Ohio, near Toledo.

The University of Dayton, Wright State University, Central State University and the Air Force Institute of Technology will join forces to start the two-year program. Students can enroll in the program on a full-time or part-time basis starting Jan. 2009.

"This is another example of the world-class collaborations in the Miami Valley that will move Ohio's economy forward," Fingerhut said. "Students will graduate from this master's program with the leadership, management, research and technical skills needed to help grow one of the most critical industries of the 21st century -- clean and renewable energy and advanced energy systems. The program has the potential to be a regional academic center of excellence where new ideas are incubated, developed, tested and refined."

Besides developing more engineers, the partners say the program is designed to help address the need for stable, clean and economical energy sources. The program also is in line with the state of Ohio's interest in research within Ohio's Third Frontier Project and the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio. Furthermore, organizers hope graduates will start new businesses to create new Ohio jobs.

"It is important for Ohio companies working in fuel cells and other energy sources to have access to a qualified workforce," said Scott Swartz, chief technology officer of NexTech Materials. "Having these students trained in Ohio makes it easier for these companies to recruit the best possible workforce." NexTech is based north of Columbus in Lewis Center, Ohio.

The program will operate within the University of Dayton's mechanical and aerospace engineering department and Wright State University's mechanical and materials engineering department. Students will receive a UD or a Wright State degree, depending where they enroll.

The Air Force Institute of Technology and Central State University also will offer classes and instructors but will not grant degrees.

Classes will focus on development of energy-reducing design techniques, renewable energy and manufacturing systems, and better forms of solar energy, fuel cells and biofuels.

Kevin Hallinan, chair of UD's mechanical and aerospace engineering department, will direct the new program and teach classes. Other UD instructors are Kelly Kissock, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Dilip Ballal, director of the von Ohain Fuels and Combustion Center at UD; and Sukh Sidhu, a senior research engineer in the University of Dayton Research Institute's Environmental Engineering Group.

Wright State's program, taught by Jim Menart, Hong Huang, Amir Farajian, Dan Young, Marian Kazimierchuk and Bor Jang, dean of the university's College of Engineering and Computer Science, also will include related research components.

Potential students include professionals looking to upgrade their skills, undergraduate engineering majors, current engineering graduate students and international students.

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