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Carleton University finds high demand for energy engineering

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by Korky Koroluk

With energy high on the list of many companies’ concerns, a new program at Carleton University is grooming a new generation of engineers to help meet a growing need for energy expertise.

Skills

OTTAWA

With energy high on the list of many companies’ concerns, a new program at Carleton University is grooming a new generation of engineers to help meet a growing need for energy expertise.

Last fall, the university launched a program offering a Bachelor of Engineering in Sustainable and Renewable Energy. The interest in it was immediate.

“We had over 100 applicants,” said Rafik Goubran, dean of the faculty of engineering and design. “We had a target of 30 first-year students, but we ended up with 32.”

And there are already more than 130 applicants for first-year admission this fall.

The demand didn’t come as a surprise. Goubran said in an interview that industry was consulted about the need for such a program, and high-schools were asked about the likely interest among their graduates.

Despite the high demand for spaces in the program, though, the annual intake will be limited to 30 to 32 students — at least for a while.

“We’re starting modestly,” he said. “But we want to see how it goes and how successful it is in . . . grabbing the attention of employers and students. When you’re starting something brand new, you don’t do it unless you’re sure it’s going to succeed. But we need to measure just how much success the program is going to have.”

In one part of the program, he said, “we look at all sorts of energy generation, including hydro, nuclear, solar, wind, fuel cells, biofuels, and so on.” Students will learn how to use these technologies more efficiently.

“Then we look at energy distribution, whether it’s electric power distribution, or pipelines, or trucking.”

This area includes courses in the so-called smart grids, which can help manage energy supplies and distribution over wide areas.

Another part of the program deals with energy consumption — hybrid systems, for example. And there are also courses in sustainable buildings and in industrial consumption.

“So the program covers energy generation, distribution and utilization,” Goubran said.

“Then there are a few courses looking at the business models for energy, risk assessment for energy, and the environmental impacts of energy.”

“It’s quite a new way of looking at energy,” he said. There are courses that deal with any number of specialties, “but we wanted to make (the program) as comprehensive as possible, so we can graduate somebody who’s a real expert in the whole area of energy.”

With all the sub-disciplines touched upon in the four-year program, it still had to be designed so graduates can meet requirements of the standard Canadian engineering accreditation boards.

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