Western receives grant to create new energy courses - The Western Front: News

Western receives grant to create new energy courses

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Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 12:00 am

The Ingersoll Rand Foundation has donated $25,000 to Western in order to help fund an energy program for the university, according to a university press release.

Brian Sibley, campaign communications manager for the division of university advancements, said he believes this program is “quintessentially Western.”

The program, intended to teach students how to develop new companies and work in the modern energy industry, is a collaborative effort from Western’s College of Business and Economics, the College of Sciences and Technology and Huxley College of the Environment, according to the press release.

“It’s a very interdisciplinary program,” said Sibley, comparing it to other Western colleges, like Fairhaven. 

He explained how most other energy programs focus on specific aspects of modern energy issues, while Western’s new program intends to create “holistic thinkers” who understand the energy industry from several perspectives.

“What we’re doing is producing people who will be hiring the engineers of the future,” he said.

Sibley said he believes this program is developing at a critical time. He said he saw a need for a program like this as people become more aware of the need for renewable and cleaner energy systems, he said.

“There is a tremendous economic opportunity for the state of Washington to produce graduates who can start the next wave of companies that will be addressing these issues,” he said.

A major program is currently in development and will begin once enough funding is gathered. An energy policy minor will by available soon, said Manca Valum, director of development for the energy program.

Huxley College of the Environment’s Dr. Andy Bunn had the idea for the program, and it was developed in collaboration with all three colleges, Valum said. 

Bunn taught climate change courses in 2008 and the roster filled up within seconds, Valum said. This got him thinking about expanding the class into something larger. 

People have held workshops around the world in order to figure out what would need to be taught and what the program would look like, Valum said.

“This degree is a degree that spans all three colleges and doesn’t really exist in any one college,” Valum said. “We’ve done something so interdisciplinary and so collaborative that it really stretches the walls of any one of those three colleges.”

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