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Students in Western Washington University’s spring 2013 “Applications in Energy Production” course get an up-close view of how energy is generated. | Photo: Courtesy of Chris Linder, Western Washington University.

Students in Western Washington University’s spring 2013 “Applications in Energy Production” course get an up-close view of how energy is generated. | Photo: Courtesy of Chris Linder, Western Washington University.

Students in Western Washington University’s spring 2013 “Applications in Energy Production” course get an up-close view of how energy is generated. | Photo: Courtesy of Chris Linder, Western Washington University.

Students in Western Washington University’s spring 2013 “Applications in Energy Production” course get an up-close view of how energy is generated. | Photo: Courtesy of Chris Linder, Western Washington University.

Students in Western Washington University’s spring 2013 “Applications in Energy Production” course get an up-close view of how energy is generated. | Photo: Courtesy of Chris Linder, Western Washington University.

Students in Western Washington University’s spring 2013 “Applications in Energy Production” course get an up-close view of how energy is generated. | Photo: Courtesy of Chris Linder, Western Washington University.

Energy is everywhere. From the food we eat, to the plants we grow, to our daily exercise routines—energy is at the root of all of these processes. That is why Western Washington University (WWU) developed its Institute for Energy Studies, which prepares students to shape our clean energy economy with a comprehensive understanding of how energy fits into our lives.

The Institute for Energy Studies at the University offers undergraduate programs that incorporate multiple disciplines into the study of energy, focusing on four essential components to address national energy security and global climate-disruption challenges: science, technology, policy, and business. Specifically, students have the option to minor in energy policy or to pursue an energy concentration within the electrical engineering program. Over the next year, the University will also develop programs for a Bachelor of Arts and a minor in energy science.

The energy policy minor offers “a look at the economics of energy markets, the political climate for energy policy and the science behind energy,” said recent graduate Graham Marmion. This interdisciplinary approach to teaching about energy is a key component of the Energy Department’s Energy 101 Framework, which WWU leveraged in designing its program.

What makes the program even more unique are field trips to energy production facilities across the Pacific Northwest, where students get a real-world understanding of the energy processes and concepts they are learning about in class. Current student Stefanie Neale notes that her lessons became more meaningful after she was able to witness energy technologies in action. 

WWU’s energy program not only gives students the knowledge to make better energy decisions but also prepares them for the workforce. As living proof that the clean energy future is now, Marmion was hired as a regulatory analyst at Puget Sound Energy just one week after graduating this past spring. He credits WWU’s energy minor for making him a more competitive candidate in the job market. Neale, currently in her fourth year of the program, also found the energy specialization useful professionally, having landed internships and job references to help further her career.

As one of the leading universities providing a comprehensive approach to post-secondary energy education, WWU demonstrates that both students and industry are demanding better energy education.

“We are successful at meeting those demands because of support from the University and from philanthropy. We've raised about 1.5 million in private funds from folks in industry who want to get their hands on the grads of these programs. They see the value in investing in the Institute” said Andy Bunn, Director of the Institute and Associate Professor.

To learn more about the Energy Department’s education efforts and other Energy 101 course and degree offerings, check out energy.gov/eere/education. Also, find internship opportunities, university listings, and career planning tools to help set you on the path to a clean energy career.