Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get involved in research as an undergraduate student?

Yes! Western has a long history of involving undergrads in research and the Energy Institute continues that tradition. Click here to get an idea of the energy-related research underway on campus. Undergrads can get involved in many of these projects. Contact us at energy.institute@wwu.edu or 360.650.4422 to learn more.

Which Departments and Colleges from WWU are involved?

Mulitple colleges are collaborating to provide an integrated program of learning, research and regional involvement. Among these:

The College of Business and Economics was established in 1976 and is a selective admission college with undergraduate and graduate programs fully accredited by AACSB International - The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The College is known for its quality undergraduate programs in business administration, economics, accounting, and manufacturing and supply chain management; its MBA program is listed among the top 100 in the world for coverage of ethical, social, and environmental issues by the Aspen Institute, and its Department of Economics offers an extensive curriculum in environmental and energy economics.

Huxley College of the Environment was established in 1969, leading the way in the academic study of the environment with an interdisciplinary approach that combines social science and policy analysis with the rigors of scientific investigation. Huxley College programs have long set the standard for education in the fields of environmental science, toxicology, planning, and policy. It is a selective admission college with undergraduate and graduate degrees in the arts and sciences.

The College of Sciences and Technology was established in 2003 when seven science and technology departments were brought under the leadership of a new dean. The College is nationally known for its outstanding programs in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering Technology, Geology, Mathematics, Physics/Astronomy and Science Math and Technical Education (SMATE). It is a recognized leader in the area of advanced materials science engineering (AMSEC) and home to the award winning Vehicle Research Institute, whose Viking 45 car placed in the top ten in the 2010 Progressive Automotive X-Prize Challenge competition.

Are there scholarships to study energy?

Yes! Through generous gifts from our donors the Institute will begin offering academic scholarships to help students embark on an energy education. We also assist students by funding travel to energy conferences and workshops. Contact us at energy.institute@wwu.edu or 360.650.4422 to learn more!

What programs are available?

Currently a minor in Energy Policy, a minor in Energy Science, and a BA in Energy Policy and Management are now available, as well as an Energy Concentration in Electrical Engineering.

We're currently working to add a BS in Energy Science to our program.

To learn more, visit our Programs page or contact us at energy.institute@wwu.edu or 360.650.4422.

Why create a new program?

Across the nation universities and colleges are expanding programs to respond to the demand for education and training related to clean and renewable energy. There has been a particularly strong surge in academic offerings connected with engineering and research. Some institutions have developed programs focused on energy policy while others emphasize the business of energy.

What is missing, according to industry leaders, policy makers, business owners, researchers and academics, is a program that combines the fields of science, technology, economics, business management and public policy. Industry experts tell us there is a growing demand for an energy-related undergraduate program that produces both depth and breadth of knowledge. Scientists, researchers and business people need to understand policy. Policy makers and entrepreneurs need to understand the science and technology upon which the industry is based. And everyone needs to understand the principles of economics and business management.

The Institute for Energy Studies at Western is addressing this critical, unmet need—right here, in Washington state. Our programs position the state to lead the nation in the next wave of economic expansion and innovation.

What does the program look like?

Students, faculty, and our partners in industry tell us that energy doesn't fit into any one discipline. As a result all of our programs are aggressively interdisciplinary. Learn more about the programs we offer on our Programs page.

Why Western Washington University?

Western is already involved in clean and renewable energy research and education. Several departments offer courses related to energy and numerous faculty members are engaged in energy related research. For example, the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC) is currently conducting research that could significantly improve the effectiveness of solar panels by developing technology for ultra-high efficiency collection and concentration of sunlight. Other research includes projects focused on upgrading biomass to renewable bio-fuels for transportation applications.

Western is geographically located in a region where energy entrepreneurship is prevalent and potential sources of renewable energy abound. Western has a long tradition of innovation and leadership and is well positioned to lead a timely expansion of educational opportunities for the region and, indeed, the nation.

The Institute for Energy Studies continues Western's tradition of research innovation, environmental leadership and commitment to undergraduate education. Three colleges within the University have collaborated to produce a unique program that harnesses expertise from throughout the campus. All three colleges are nationally recognized for their outstanding educational programs and demonstrated educational excellence. This multi-college program supports interdisciplinary learning while fostering an approach to problem solving that encourages cross-discipline thinking.

What are people saying about the program?

Take a look at all of our testimonials.

What kind of job might I get after studying energy?

An integrated education in energy that spans the technological, economic and policy aspects will prepare you for a number of careers in energy.  Utilities that provide energy to residential and commercial customers are looking for trained people for everything from field work to managing energy flow through their grid.  Energy management firms also need employees that understand energy.  And don't forget the dream of being an energy entrepreneur; you may develop the next big thing in sustainable energy production.  Or perhaps you'll figure out what to do with all that plutonium and make nuclear power a viable option.  All big firms now have energy specialists who manage the firm’s energy consumption; from Alaska Airlines to Ingersoll Rand to the US Navy. We need people that understand energy.  Many government agencies and NGOs employ people with the ability to analyze multiple aspects of energy issues. There will be a job for you!

What's your contact information?

Contact the Institute for Energy Studies faculty and staff directly though the people page, by phone at (360) 650-4422, by email at energy.institute@wwu.edu, or stop by our office in Arntzen Hall 303.

Our mailing address is:

Institute for Energy Studies

Western Washington University
516 High Street, MS9084
Bellingham WA
98225-9084

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