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Renewable energy major amalgamates

The face of the renewable energy program is changing, as the concentrations in management and international development will no longer be offered.

“I prefer to say consolidating,” said Larry Bland, chair of the division of engineering and construction management. “Renewable energy is not gone, it’s just refocused.”

The previous program offered a Bachelor’s degree in renewable energy with the options to study management or international development, as well as a renewable energy engineering concentration and a minor. The renewable energy major is no longer being offered.

Bland gives credit to lack of interest for the change. There are currently just over a dozen renewable energy majors, as compared to about a dozen renewable energy engineers per class.

“We’re concentrating where we see the desire,” said Bland. “But we won’t be ignoring the needs of the marketplace.”

“I can see some of the need for it, but I don’t think the field has reached the point where we need [management] so much as just people working [in the field],” said junior Christin Garrison. Garrison is a renewable energy minor.

Garrison is part of the Biomass class that is working on new ways to turn used vegetable oil into biofuel.

“There are a lot of alternate ways to get energy, things that you’ve probably never even thought of,” she said. “There’s a larger interest in the engineering and practical side of it. We’ve just begun to explore.”

As for the future of the renewable energy program, there’s always something new to consider, said Bland.

“We’re being conservative, looking for innovation and expansion that will meet the needs of our society and our students,” he said.