Energy Studies FAQ
The Institute for Energy Studies is a unique, interdisciplinary program with multi-college collaboration, including Huxley College of the Environment, the College of Science and Engineering, and the College of Business and Economics. The ten departments participating in this interdisciplinary program are recognized for their outstanding educational programs and demonstrated excellence.
The Energy Policy and Management program fosters interdisciplinary thinking, learning and problem solving and integrates courses in economics, environmental studies, environmental science, and various other disciplines. Students gain knowledge and develop analytic skills in the policy and management aspects of today's diverse energy business, along with broad exposure to the science, environmental, business and policy aspects of the energy system that drive the formation and analysis of energy-related policies.
The goal of the Energy Science and Technology degree is to give students knowledge and analytic skills in the science and technology of today’s diverse energy systems and industries. The degree is designed to prepare graduates to become leaders in Washington’s emerging clean energy economy with an interdisciplinary education that emphasizes applied science and technology, complemented by energy policy and business practices, that industry experts have prioritized among Washington’s energy workforce needs.
Email Program Advisor, Gail Cowan (firstname.lastname@example.org), to declare an energy major, minor, or certificate.
Currently, we do not have pre-major requirements prior to declaring.
An interdisciplinary institute is an innovation in higher education that enables a university and its faculty to address emerging, real-world problems and opportunities and prepare students to address them in ways that do not align with the traditional academic department structure (some call them “silos”) that was established some 60 years ago. A just transition to an efficient, clean energy economy, to meet the global challenge of climate change, is a defining mission of our time. To fulfill this mission, the energy curriculum at WWU is designed to be broader than a traditional science or business major, because work in the energy field requires an understanding of the business and policy context, as well as technical skills. At the same time, the degree is more focused than other interdisciplinary majors, because the field requires quantitative depth and a real skill set to hit the ground running after graduation. The degree requirements have the flexibility to allow you to focus on areas of interest to you, while striking a balance between the necessary breadth and depth that the profession needs. Our Energy Science and Technology and Energy Policy and Management majors were designed with guidance from leaders in the energy profession across the Northwest – energy utilities, engineering companies, manufacturers, government agencies, non-profit groups, etc. – to provide a practical skillset with which to enter the profession and build a career in the clean energy transition.
The Institute for Energy Studies is a University Interdisciplinary Program. Rather than being housed under a single department or college, it crosses disciplines to work with faculty in multiple departments and colleges across campus.
The clean energy profession – including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electrification – is booming, as it races to transform the energy system and mitigate climate change. The WWU energy majors were designed with guidance from leaders in the energy profession across the Northwest – energy utilities, engineering companies, manufacturers, government agencies, non-profit groups, etc. – to provide a practical skillset with which to enter the profession and build a career in the clean energy transition. All of these organizations, and others, now employ WWU graduates and expect to add staff in the near future. In particular, there is strong growth in energy in the built environment and in energy utilities, which is why they are each a focus in our energy majors. Both of these areas sound rather static, but in fact they are industries where the old guard is retiring and new staff and new ideas are entering, and these are fields where key decisions in the clean energy transition are made.
The clean energy profession in energy utilities, government agencies, non-profit groups, etc. have a growing need for staff with business analytics and communication skills, as well as an understanding of energy systems and policy, that most business and other social science graduates lack. Our graduates are finding positions such as energy economist, energy efficiency, program manager, corporate/campus energy manager, project manager, director of energy policy, carbon manager, etc. A broad skillset that enables staff to communicate fluently with both the CFO and the CTO in a company is a unique asset, and it also helps to know specific tools, like Excel, GIS, Sketchup, regression analysis, and data analytics, as well as energy economic and financial analysis.
The clean energy profession in energy utilities, engineering companies, manufacturers, government agencies, non-profit groups, etc. have a growing need for staff with sufficient technical skills to understand energy systems, and also business and communication skills that most science and engineering graduates lack. Our graduates are finding positions such as energy efficiency program analyst, program manager, energy modeler, resource planner, corporate/campus energy manager, project manager, director of carbon management, etc. A skillset that enables staff to communicate fluently with both the CFO and the CTO in a company is a unique asset, and it also helps to know specific tools, like Excel, GIS, Sketchup, CAD, R, regression analysis and data analytics, programming languages like Python, science fundamentals in thermodynamics, mechanics, mass and energy stocks and flows, electric circuits, etc., as well as basic energy economic and financial analysis. Graduates with the BS are well positioned to acquire professional energy certifications such as CEM (Certified Energy Manager) or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
For the BS, any science-based minor generally complimentary and not difficult to complete. For the BA, economics or business minors are popular. For both energy majors, the GIS or sustainable design minors are also complimentary.
Major restricted courses are opened to students outside of the Energy Studies program during Phase 2 registration.
The IES Tool Lending Library is a portable laboratory to enable students and faculty to make measurements of energy systems and building energy performance. Students can check out monitoring tools for a variety of purposes at little or no cost, and they receive instruction on the proper care and operation of the equipment. The hardware ranges from simple lighting and temperature sensors to advanced thermal imaging equipment.
Student clubs include the Women in Energy Mentoring Network (WEIMN), an opportunity for women students and professional women in the energy field to provide mentorship, share knowledge, and create a network of shared connections, Net Impact, a global organization that encourages the integration of business and sustainability, and Students for Renewable Energy (SRE), an Associated Students club that promotes the use of clean energy technologies in the local, national, and global economy.
Students are invited to participate in the Environmental Innovation Challenge. Participating in interdisciplinary teams, students work together to define an environmental problem, design a solution, build a prototype and/or a computer simulation, and create a business summary that demonstrates the market potential.
To learn when club meetings are contact Program Advisor, Gail Cowan (email@example.com).
All ten IES permanent faculty (who IES hired) and fifteen affiliated faculty (in other departments, who work with IES dues to energy interests) are active in research and regularly involve undergraduate students in research projects. To get involved, students need to consult with the individual faculty about their interests.
WWU has a variety of resources to help find internships and job opportunities. Check out those resources below. Handshake The Career Services Center is proud to offer Handshake, an online job and internship posting database available to students, alumni, and employers. On-Campus Recruiting (OCR) Each year employers come to the Western campus to interview students for permanent career positions, as well as internships, in business, industry, government, and education. Career Fairs and Events Hundreds of local, regional and national employers/organizations attend WWU Career Fairs and events looking to connect with WWU Vikings! Be sure to check our calendar for upcoming events.
The only Masters’ degree option now available to potential graduate students who want to work with IES faculty is to apply for a MA or MS degree through Huxley College, where several IES faculty have joint appointments. Their MA or MS coursework can include a graduate-level energy courses, and new courses are being added each year. WWU offers two graduate-level certificates, which can be completed alongside a degree program or separately.