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Bachelor’s Program in Renewable Energy Systems

With renewable energy technologies sporting the fastest growth rates of any energy industry, it only makes sense that higher education would seize this opportunity and begin offering degrees catered specifically to the renewable energy field.

A new Bachelor of Science degree in Renewable Energy Systems (RES) will be offered by Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), in the Portland, Oregon area. The program, which was recently approved by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education, is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. It is intended to address the issue of “sustainability” in a substantive way, according to the organizers. “The degree is built on a solid foundation in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and communications,” John Yarbrough, program director, said. “Added to this foundation are courses in mechanical and electrical engineering principles.” Yarbrough, who has been affiliated with OIT since 1972 as an Electronics Engineering Technology professor and OREC research faculty member, said that “the mechanical and electrical course work leads to courses in energy systems, heat pump systems, photovoltaics, energy management and auditing, wind and bio-mass, renewable energy transportation systems, zero net energy buildings, and fuel-cells.” The degree is designed to meet present and future needs for renewable energy professionals. “Program graduates will be prepared to successfully integrate skills in the social, environmental, economic, technical and scientific aspects of sustainable energy generation,” Yarbrough said. The program is part of OIT’s Oregon Renewable Energy Center. It will be delivered in Portland, beginning Winter Term 2005, and in collaboration with Clackamas Community College (CCC). Plans call for the program to be offered on the main campus in Klamath Falls. Clackamas already has a long relationship with OIT in sharing an educational facility, OIT’s Portland Metro Center, on SE Harmony Road. General education courses will be provided by CCC, while the Renewable Energy Systems courses will be delivered by OIT at a variety of locations, including the OIT Metro Center, the CCC main campus and the Wilsonville Training Center. “This program has tremendous potential to provide professionals for a whole new industry in Oregon,” OIT President Martha Anne Dow said. “Oregon has been a leader in renewable energy technology development. The need now is adapting the technology to devices that are useful to business, industry and individuals. This program is geared to provide the professionals who will do just that.”