Fuel cells are among the promising technologies that are expected to transform our energy sector. They represent highly efficient and fuelflexible technologies that offer diverse benefits. For example, fuel cells can be used in a wide range of applications—from portable electronics, to combined heat and power (CHP) units used for distributed electricity generation, to passenger vehicles. Learn more
Outlook for Fuel Cell Technology Careers
As various fuel cell applications gain market share, the industry is expected to undergo significant growth. Employment opportunities will open up in businesses that develop, manufacture, operate, and maintain the fuel cell systems. Jobs will also become available in businesses that produce and deliver the hydrogen and other fuels used by these systems. Many of these jobs require engineering and science backgrounds related to product and technology development. Analyses show that widespread market penetration could create 180,000 new jobs in the United States by 2020, and 675,000 jobs by 2035.1
As market demand for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies increases. across sectors of our economy, there will be an increasing need for trained and experienced personnel and accompanying services such as qualified maintenance technicians, installers, manufacturing professionals, trainers, insurers, and educators. The DOE has implemented a “train the trainer” approach to education that includes job certifications and curriculum required to support this growing workforce. Inperson training, online training courses, webcasts and webinars are all tools that should be used to reach people in sectors who could benefit from learning about hydrogen and fuel cells. These sectors can include energy service companies, utilities, venture capital firms, insurance and underwriter industries, state government workforce development agencies, government code officials, first responders, and local public and community outreach.
Fuel Cell Technology Careers
• Mechanical engineers
• Chemical engineers
• Electrical engineers
• Materials scientists
• Laboratory technicians
• Factory workers
• Industrial engineers
• Power plant operators
• Power plant maintenance staff
• Bus, truck and other fleet drivers
• Vehicle technicians
• Fueling infrastructure installers
• Hydrogen production technicians
Fuel Cells as a Future Jobs Engine
• Widespread adoption of fuel cells could create 180,000 new jobs in the United States by 2020, and 675,000 jobs by 2035.2
• The United States holds over 45% of the fuel cell patents awarded between 2002 - 2011.3
• Several states—including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Ohio, New York, and South Carolina—have major hydrogen and fuel cell programs underway.
Educating Future Scientists and Engineers
The Fuel Cell Technologies Office has supported the development of fuel cell education curricula that include general education courses, specialized science and engineering courses, minor and concentration programs, curriculum modules, internships, lab classes and kits, and textbook chapters. The work has been conducted at several universities, including California State University-Los Angeles, Humboldt State
University, the University of California-Berkeley, Michigan Technological University, Florida Institute of Technology, the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and the University of North Dakota. Learning about hydrogen and fuel cells should begin with K-12. The H2Educate program team has helped to create hydrogen and fuel cell curricula and teaching materials.
A National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, the H2Educate program was designed to target K-12 teachers and students with educational materials, training programs, and curricula evaluation. The program emphasized the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills using inquiry activities that encourage students to consider the trade-offs inherent in energy decisions. All NEED materials are available for educators to download free of charge. Ranging from one hour to one day, NEED has provided training to over 12,000 teachers in 35 states since H2Educate’s inception in 2004. Pre and post data from participating schools and workshops show a 60% increase in student and teacher knowledge. These projects are designed to introduce hydrogen and fuel cell technology to students across the country, educating the scientists, engineers, and potential end users of tomorrow.
References and Notes
1. Defining, Estimating, and Forecasting the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Industries in the U.S. and in Colorado, America solar Energy Society, December 2008.
3. 2010 Year in Review from http://cepgi.typepad.com/heslin_rothenberg_farley_/