From Scott Carlberg

Energy employers are having a tough time finding qualified applicants. We wrote about that in our first Back to School blog recently. Energy Consumers of the Carolinas sees the vested interest in Carolinians being interested in, and prepared for, the energy workforce. That helps keep the lights on for our states and supports our local economies.

Part One in our blogs covered “craft” education. Part Two is about university offerings in energy in the Carolina’s.

As you look at engineering in the energy industry, electrical engineering may come to mind. Pay close attention to mechanical engineering, though, because “ME’s” are foundations of the energy industry.

Carolina universities have comprehensive energy programs for degreed and certificate programs. Here is a sampling of them, and understand that it is a bit of a laundry list because the Carolina’s have ample higher education opportunities.

UNC Charlotte – EPIC image

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte effectively cross pollinates classroom and energy industry exposure. The Energy Production and Infrastructure Center provides education, applied research and extensive industry collaboration for its students.

UNC Charlotte’s mechanical engineering program can provide exposure to disciplines like precision engineering, bioengineering, metrology, computational methods, mechanics and materials.

UNC Charlotte’s College of Engineering’s Senior Design Program brings together students and industrial partners in a collaborative research environment. They tackle real-world engineering projects. The emphasis is to develop critical skills in multi-disciplinary teams. Projects address problems in electrical, computer, mechanical, systems and civil engineering technologies.

Western Carolina image

At Western Carolina University, the electrical power concentration focuses on electric power systems, power electronics, smart grid design, renewable and sustainable energy, electric machines and drives, and emphasizes fundamental coursework in electrical and mechanical engineering. Students work with faculty members who bring industry and business expertise to the classroom. The program emphasizes hands-on application of theoretical and technical concepts through project-based learning. Students work on real-world assignments with companies through The Rapid Center, WCU’s on-campus research and development facility. WCU also offers a BS in Electrical Engineering.

North Carolina State University is home to the first university-based nuclear reactor. Nuclear engineers work with nuclear energy, used fuel, medical physics and more. They may also be active in design and nuclear research. Here’s a look at NCSU undergrad degrees in nuclear energy.  The NC State American Nuclear Society chapter won the bid to host the 2020 American Nuclear Society (ANS) Student Conference in Raleigh, which brings more attention to the Carolinas.

NCSU’s Electrical Engineering Department has academic areas such as power electronics and power systems, renewable energy, controls/robotics/mechatronics, electronic circuits and systems. The university’s mechanical engineering program is well-known nationwide. NCSU also has an emphasis in Renewable Electric Energy Systems (REES)

University of South Carolina image

In Columbia, the University of South Carolina offers varied technical degrees, such as nuclear, mechanical engineering, engineering management, integrated information technology, computer science and engineering.

The USC Mechanical Engineering undergraduate program develop various levels of expertise. The curriculum includes the following areas of concentration: Design/manufacturing, mechanics/materials, thermofluid/energy sciences, and sustainable design development.

Clemson has a long history of engineering. Check its electrical and computer engineering program. Clemson also offers energy certificates, such as a power systems engineering certificate, renewable energy,  or advanced power systems engineering. The university has a mechanical engineering program. Clemson also offers a minor in nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, noting that this minor supplements other technical degrees and opens up the nuclear field as a potential workplace.

North Carolina A&T includes Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), computational engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Duke University has an electrical and computer engineering degree in the Pratt School of Engineering. The university’s certificate in energy and the environment provides undergraduates an understanding of our society’s need for clean, affordable and reliable energy.

Eastern North Carolina University has a young engineering program, started 2004, that includes electrical engineering, environmental engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Appalachian State University has varied workshops about energy. Examples: Hands-on Distributed Wind Energy Workshop, Introduction to Photovoltaic System Design & Construction, and PV Systems: Tools and Techniques for Operations and Maintenance. App State also has an impressive continuing education program about energy.

All of these programs aim to get useful knowledge and skills in the workplace, and they do it with the latest technology. “Training qualified personnel includes tools such as simulation, virtual reality, and visualization. The intersection of these changes has resulted in challenging and rewarding opportunities for people interested in entering the energy workforce,” says energy training expert Rocky Sease, Owner and CEO of the training and certification company, SOS Intl in Charlotte.

In Part One of our blogs about energy careers we noted the Center for Energy Workforce Development and the factors it says makes hiring new energy talent a challenge – its Game Changers. Check the items in red, and as you pursue an education in energy, ask about these specific needs and how you can master them. Pay attention to the way you can develop these traits and skills to be a competitive candidate in the energy industry. It’s a great place to work.