Challenges in developing a new energy engineering major

Sarma V. Pisupati, Yaw D. Yeboah

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


With the world's thirst for energy continuing to grow, there is now an urgent demand for a well trained workforce to develop, process, utilize and manage conventional, unconventional, and renewable energy sources in an environmentally safe and economically feasible way. To move The Pennsylvania State University to the forefront in energy, the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering has developed for the first time in the US, a formal undergraduate degree program (Bachelor of Science) in the growing field of energy engineering. Through collaboration and cooperative arrangements with other departments and colleges, and flexibility in the program, science and engineering students with special interests in energy are able to obtain a BS degree in Energy Engineering on its own or dual/concurrent degrees, minors, options or general education in energy engineering. Along with the basic engineering skills, the program integrates skill sets in the physical sciences (chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and physics) and social sciences (economics, policy, and management). The first two years of the program are similar to traditional engineering disciplines. Thereafter, one takes a series of courses that introduce Energy Engineering concepts and fundamental energy engineering principles that involve material and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer operations, and physical and chemical processing as applied to energy industries. In addition to these engineering principles, students enroll in required courses in renewable/sustainable energy principles. Students are trained in basic chemistry of fuels - coal, petroleum, natural gas and biomass; combustion; petroleum and natural gas processing; electrochemical energy conversion; and energy conversion processes including chemical, nuclear, biological and catalytic. Students also choose departmental electives from courses such as green energy engineering and environmental compliance, hydrogen and fuel cell technology, materials for energy applications, physical processes in energy engineering, and air pollutants from combustion sources. Professional electives allow students to gain exposure to business, legal and ethical issues related to energy. Technical electives can be chosen to provide specialization or breadth and depth in renewable or non-renewable energy and/or mechanical or chemical aspects of energy. This paper discusses the program, the rationale in developing the program, and the details of the novel curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Print)9780878232413
StatePublished - 2012
Event119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 13 2012

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


Other119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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