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Even Renewable Energy Education Is Bigger In Texas

The Lone Star state is leading the way in wind energy, ranking number one in the country for wind power capacity. But opportunities in the clean energy sector don’t stop with wind power. Interested students can study engineering, energy technology, or a host of interdisciplinary subjects such as sustainability and energy studies. 

For those students seeking doctoral-level education, the Ph.D. program in Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering offers a rare terminal degree in this field. The program draws heavily on engineering and science among other disciplines. Students will explore topics such as “the sustainable utilization of fossil fuels and renewable resources, design of devices for efficient energy conversion, smart distribution and storage of energy, and sustainability and environmental impact of energy-related activities.” Graduates will be able to solve complex problems currently facing the global energy sector.

Although Houston is an epicenter for oil and gas production, the Master of Science in Global Energy Management can also prepare students for careers in clean energy. The program’s website notes that jobs in renewable energy industries such as wind, solar, and biofuels are expected to increase in the coming years, and graduates with applicable skills and knowledge will be in high demand. Opportunities also abound for financial analysts in this sector, with an average annual salary of $76,000 and a projected 16% growth through 2022. 

The Renewable Energy Technology Systems program at El Paso Community College prepares students for entry-level opportunities in Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal installation and maintenance. Students will also be able to take the North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP) exam upon graduation. Successful completion of the exam means students are employable not only throughout Texas but also nationwide.  

At the Dallas County Community College District’s Eastfield campus, students can pursue a certificate or an AAS degree in Renewable / Sustainable Energy Technology. Both programs focus on solar and wind technology, enabling students to develop hands-on training in the installation and maintenance of solar and wind systems. Graduates will be prepared for careers as energy system technicians as well as jobs in sales, design, and management of various energy systems. 

The Solar Energy Technology program at Texas State Technical College in Waco is one of the few degree programs to focus specifically on solar energy. The program partners with the Texas Renewable Energy Education Consortium and the State Energy Conservation Office to ensure the curriculum is in line with industry standards. Graduates will be qualified for job opportunities at leading companies such as Solar Edge, Enphase Energy, and Tesla. 

The Renewable Energy program at Austin Community College offers a Level 1 Certificate or an AAS degree in Renewable Energy Specialization. Credits earned in the certificate program can be applied towards the AAS degree. Both educational paths train students for careers as energy technicians in the renewable energy sector. Coursework focuses on photovoltaic technology but also covers wind, geothermal, and solar thermal power. 

Wind power has created a wealth of jobs in West Texas, and Amarillo College’s certificate programs give students the skills they need to land entry-level positions in this field. And thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation in 2010, Amarillo College added solar power classes and training to the renewable energy curriculum.

Through the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, masters degree students in any discipline can enroll in the Graduate Portfolio Program in Energy Studies (GPPES). The GPPES is interdisciplinary, involving eight UT schools and colleges. Students can design their own program to meet their specific career and educational goals by selecting from a list of appropriate courses. Participants are also required to complete an energy-oriented research project. 

Engineering students at the University of Texas at Arlington can increase their skills and knowledge base by adding a minor in sustainable engineering. Graduates with a sustainable engineering minor are likely to be more attractive to potential employers such as government agencies, conservation groups, and private industries. The program’s website distinguishes sustainable engineering from environmental engineering. Whereas environmental engineering is focused on design devices that remove pollution, sustainable engineering asks how we can avoid pollution in the first place.  

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a Master of Science in Mechanical and Energy Engineering. Distinguished faculty members have received honors from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Students have access to state-of-the-art labs and facilities and will conduct research on a number of topics including biomaterials, renewable energy, and environmental monitoring and modeling. 

Offered by the Energy Institute at Texas A&M University, the 10-month Master of Science in Energy program can be completed on-campus or online. Courses are taught by distinguished faculty from a variety of departments including Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, Architecture, Geosciences, and Business. Students can also choose elective course themes that include Energy Digitization, Energy Policy and Management, and Sustainable Energy. 

Culminating in a Bachelor of Arts rather than a Bachelor of Science, this unique program is part of the Department of Geography and the Environment and combines classes from a variety of disciplines. The program aims to provide students with “a rigorous and focused study of sustainability methods and content” and offers three areas of concentration: Trajectories to Sustainability, Sustainable Choice in a Diverse World, and Natural Resource Management. 


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