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Thursday, June 02, 2011 - Energized Team: SBA, SECS prepare professionals for advances in energy management

A collaborative effort between two OU schools is equipping area professionals to be proficient in an arena experiencing tremendous growth: energy management.

 

The SBA and the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS) recently wrapped up their first six-week Energy Management Certificate Program (EMCP), which focuses on engineering and managing a sustainable energy enterprise. The program helps participants understand energy usage options that lead to cost and energy savings; apply sustainability principles that can cut costs and enhance reputation; and acquire the skills to evaluate, analyze and implement the best energy choices for their organizations.

 

“The students are especially interested in reducing energy costs and capitalizing on government incentives,” says Maureen Callaghan, professional development coordinator, SECS. “They want to be kept current in this evolving field.” The students and faculty enjoyed interacting with industry professionals from DTE Energy and Newman Energy Consultants.

 

The faculty integrated both business and engineering perspectives as they delivered program content in this innovative area. "It's a unique program, that is very hands on, and very accessible," Callaghan adds. And, it's preparing professionals to take the lead in an expanding field.

 

The clean energy sector has experienced dramatic growth in recent years. During the last decade, jobs in this sector grew nationally at 9.1 percent while traditional jobs grew only by 3.7 percent. Approximately 4.2 million green jobs are expected to be created by 2038, which could result in as much as 10 percent of new job growth during the next 30 years.

 

Companies building a better world, business

 

With organizations such as Ford Motor Company supporting the belief that creating a strong business and building a better world are not conflicting goals, but instead are essential ingredients for long-term success, it's easy to see the impetus behind the growth of the energy management sector. 

 

"When Ford first added sustainability to my job title, our CEO Alan Mulally noted with a company as large and diverse as ours, it made sense to have one person in place to provide global oversight to our business -- through the lens of sustainability and with an eye toward the bottom line. It's a great way to look at our business and our vision for a greener future," says Sue Cischke, SECS '76, group vice president, sustainability, environment and safety engineering, Ford, on her Huffington Post blog. Since 2008, Cischke has been responsible for establishing Ford Motor Company's long range sustainability strategy and environmental policy where she helps develop the products and processes necessary to satisfy both customers and society, and is Ford's chief liaison with global organizations seeking solutions to the challenges of sustainability, environmental stewardship and energy independence.

 

 

Enhancing experience and understanding

 

That's the kind of program the SBA and SECS have begun to build with the Energy Management Certificate program.

 

The students in the first program included facilities managers, industrial and product engineers, a government affairs manager, and small business owners. All brought their previous experience and education to the program. In this case, all either held degrees -- in engineering or business – and some had 10-to-15 years experience in the energy industry.

 

Program graduate Michael Caruso, manager at a global technology and services provider, was drawn to the opportunity to learn more about evolving technologies, including smart grids, and their potential to save energy and reduce costs for his company. Since completing the program, Caruso has a broader comprehension of energy issues. “I certainly have a greater understanding of what we, as an organization, need to consider,” he says. The course took a thoughtful approach, for instance, to determining whether a building is efficient.  “For example, by considering all of the thermo-dynamic properties of all of the elements involved, you can determine where you’re losing heat,” Caruso says.

 

Integrating management and engineering

 

Designed for busy professionals, the SBA and SECS offered the energy management certificate program in three modules on six Fridays and Saturdays over a nine-week period.

 

OU professors representing business and engineering presented the modules, demonstrating how the integration of management and engineering perspectives is necessary for effective energy management.  By relating engineering activities to processes, products and service needs, each module included an engineering and business component.

 

For example, during the first module, Fundamentals of Energy and Energy Management, instructors provided an overview of conventional and alternative energy supply and usage, along with principles of energy conservation as it applies to an organization’s facilities. The business perspective focused on the purpose and principles of effective energy management, an overview of the energy value chain, the role of energy in a company’s overall strategy and the establishment of costs and controls for energy projects.

 

The other two modules followed a similar vein. The second module took an in-depth look at energy assessment and alternatives and the process of evaluating an energy options that best meet an organization’s needs.  During the final module the participants delved into group energy management projects and discussed how to establish and maintain an energy management program in their own organizations.

 

A program with a future

 

Partnering across disciplines to develop and deliver this new professional certificate program supports the SBA's goals of encouraging economic development, while supporting the professional development of individuals looking to differentiate themselves in their current careers or transition into new careers in growing fields.

 

The SBA and SECS will continue to offer the EMCP for professional development as it offers an essential tool to support energy-related careers.

 

"We are now developing more energy-related coursework and ultimately hope to introduce a master's program -- possibly in engineering management with an energy management concentration," says Michael Polis, professor engineering, and chair, industrial and systems engineering for OU's SECS. 

 

"Developing programs that focus on opportunities in Michigan and help area professionals increase their knowledge can help individuals and the region develop a competitive edge and prepare for new opportunities in the region," says Louay Chamra, dean, SECS. 

 

The Fall 2011 program begins Friday, Sept. 16.  The Winter 2012 program begins Friday, March 2.  For more information on OU's Energy Management Certificate Program (EMCP), visit www.oakland.edu/energymgmt.

By Flori Meeks