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Graduate and Undergraduate University Programs in Wind Energy in the U.S.

Journal of Wind Engineering. 2018. Authored by Andrew Swift (Texas Tech University), Suzanne Tegen (Center  for the New Energy Economy), Tom Acker (Northern Arizona University), James Manwell (University of Massachusetts Amherst), Chris Pattison (Texas Tech University), and Jon McGowan (University of Massachusetts Amherst). 

Advances in wind energy technology and continued expansion of wind energy into the United States and global electricity grids will depend upon an educated and skilled workforce. While wind energy technician programs at community colleges or vocational schools have prospered in the United States over the past decade, partially due to the high demand for wind technicians, university programs that prepare graduates pursuing baccalaureate and advanced graduate degrees have lagged behind. At the same time, European university programs in wind energy have flourished, providing experts with advanced degrees who are then employed worldwide by the global wind energy industry. According to a projection of wind industry jobs needed in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision report and estimates of education level requirements for jobs, as provided in this article, the United States may need more than 50,000 university-educated professionals with advanced degrees to support wind energy development by 2030. To provide these professionals, the number of wind energy academic programs must increase significantly beyond those available today—a task that will require collaboration among universities and external support from both industry and government. This article provides a review of the growing need for a university graduate-level-educated wind energy workforce, an overview of the current domestic wind energy workforce picture, existing global and domestic university wind energy programs, and recommendations for university-level wind energy education programs in the United States.

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