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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems


Ali Demirci, Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Program Chair
231 Agricultural Engineering Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-863-1098
axd29@psu.edu

Degree Conferred

M.P.S.

The Graduate Faculty

Core Courses
Jeffrey Brownson, Ph.D. (Wisconsin) Assistant Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering
Seth Blumsack, Ph.D. (Carnegie Mellon) Assistant Professor of Energy Policy and Economics
Sarma Pisupati, Ph.D. (Penn State) Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering
Tom Richard, Ph.D. (Cornell) Director of Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment
Nancy Tuana, Ph.D. (California) Director, Rock Ethics Institute and Director of Philosophy Graduate Studies

Bioenergy Option
John Carlson, Ph.D. (Illinois), Professor of Molecular Genetics
Yongsheng Chen Ph.D. (Lehigh), Assistant Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering
Daniel Ciolkosz Ph.D. (Cornell), Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Ali Demirci, Ph.D. (Iowa State) Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Marvin Hall, Ph.D. (Minnesota), Professor of Forage Management
Jude Liu, Ph.D. (Manitoba), Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Marc McDill, Ph.D. (Minnesota), Associate Professor of Forest Management
Joe Perez Ph.D. (Delaware), Adjunct Professor of Chemical Engineering
Tom Richard, Ph.D. (Cornell) Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Gregory Roth, Ph.D. (Penn State), Professor of Agronomy
Andrew Zydney Ph.D. (MIT), Head and Professor of Chemical Engineering

Wind Energy Option
Kenneth Brentner, Ph.D. (Cambridge) Professor of Aerospace Engineering
George Lesieutre, Ph.D. (UCLA) Professor and Head of Aerospace Engineering
Mark Maughmer, Ph.D. (Illinois) Professor of Aerospace Engineering
Dennis McLaughlin, Ph.D. (MIT) Professor of Aerospace Engineering
Philip Morris, Ph.D. (Southampton) Boeing, A.D. Welliver Professor of Aerospace Engineering
Sven Schmitz, Ph.D. (California, Davis), Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering

Solar Energy Option
Jeffrey Brownson, Ph.D. (Wisconsin) Assistant Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering
David Riley, Ph.D. (Penn State) Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering

Sustainability Management and Policy Option
Jeffrey Brownson, Ph.D. (Wisconsin) Assistant Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering
Min Ding, Ph.D. (Penn), Professor of Marketing and Robert G. Schwartz Fellow
Zhen Lei, Ph.D. (Berkeley), Assistant Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics
David Riley, Ph.D. (Penn State), Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering
Anastasia Shcherbakova, Ph.D. (Chicago), Assistant Professor of Energy Economics, Risk & Policy

Program Description

The intercollege RESS professional master’s program (iMPS-RESS) is an online-interdisciplinary master’s degree program designed to prepare professionals in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability systems to lead the world’s transformation from an unsustainable,  fossil energy economy to a renewable, sustainable basis of operation. For example, attaining an ambitious national goal of 25% of energy from renewable resources by the year 2025 in the U.S.  requires a tremendous increase in renewable energy production and use in ways that are sustainable, environmentally sound, and reliable. The iMPS-RESS program is designed to address the critical need for professionals with relevant expertise in renewable energy and sustainability systems.

The curriculum consists of 32 credits, delivered online through the Penn State World Campus. The program provides broad coverage of topics related to renewable energy and sustainability systems while providing in-depth coverage of select topics such as solar, wind, bioenergy, and sustainability management and policy. Students are required to follow a focused curriculum that combines requisite rigor with flexibility appropriate to a rapidly changing field. Students take a number of core program courses that provide an in-depth understanding of the sustainability framework relevant to energy and sustainability systems and, in consultation with their program adviser, select additional courses from a broad array of electives designed to meet their individual learning goals. While not required to do so, students may choose from one of four program options that provide specialized technical instruction in various aspects of renewable energy and sustainability systems. A comprehensive Scholarship and Academic Research Integrity (SARI) plan embeds ethics and integrity training both at the start and at the end of the master’s program.  A capstone course is required of all students that serves to aggregate the material learned and provide a summative educational experience within the framework of a semester long group-based project. 

Admission Requirements

Educational Background
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a bachelor's degree from a U.S. regionally accredited institution or (2) a postsecondary degree that is equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate degree earned from an officially recognized degree-granting international institution. Academic performance and/or professional experience must be equivalent to that expected for admission to a typical resident-program master’s degree. Applications must include a statement of professional goals, a curriculum vita or resume, and three letters of recommendation. Official records of scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) are also required. However, this requirement may be waived under certain circumstances – please contact the graduate program directly. 

Language of Instruction
The language of instruction at Penn State is English. International applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test, or a total score of 80 with a 19 on the speaking section for the internet-based test. The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 6.5. International applicants may be exempted by the program director from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have received a baccalaureate or a master’s degree from a college/university/institution utilizing English as the means of instruction, such as those in Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, The Republic of South Africa, Scotland, the United States and Wales.

Core Application Packet

  • Statement of Purpose
    A statement of professional experience and goals (up to 500 words)
  • Vita or resume
  • Three letters of recommendation
    The individuals writing letters should be familiar with you and comfortable discussing your professional and/or academic strengths and accomplishments. Preferably, all letters will be written within the last six months and reference the applicant’s current career goals and/or ability to perform graduate level study. Two official transcripts from each higher education institution attended
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score, if applicable
  • Application fee

Admissions Process
Applications will be evaluated by the iMPS-RESS Admissions Committee based on the applicants’ technical qualifications for the program relative to their area of interest, their previous educational experience, and English Language proficiency. In general, successful applicants are expected to have earned a junior/senior grade-point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants with a marginal record are encouraged to first complete a related Graduate Certificate before applying for admission to the iMPS-RESS program. Exemplary performance in the graduate certificate will be taken into consideration for possible admission into the iMPS-RESS program, but completion of a certificate does not imply or guarantee admission into a degree program.

Master’s Degree Requirements

The iMPS-RESS degree is conferred upon students who earn a minimum of 32 credits of coursework while maintaining an average grade-point average of 3.0 or better in all course work, including at least 18 credits at the 500 level or above (with at least 6 credits at the 500 level), and who complete a quality culminating capstone project in consultation with a graduate adviser. The program curriculum includes 11 credits of core courses, 9-12 credits of a selected option (or adviser-approved course of study), 6-9 credits of electives, and a 3-credit capstone course (ABE 589).

Required Courses
Prescribed courses for the degree include 11 credits of core courses in renewable energy and sustainability, as well as the 3 credit capstone course (ABE 589).

  • A B E 589. Management and Design of Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (3 cr.)
  • BIOET 533. Ethical Dimensions of Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (2 cr.)
  • EME 504. Foundations in Sustainability Systems (3 cr.)
  • EME 801. Energy Markets, Policy, and Regulation (3 cr.)
  • EME 802. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems (3 cr.)

Additional Courses
An additional 18 credits must be selected from the following list of courses. This listing includes 4 Program Options that provide focused instruction in a given aspect of renewable energy and sustainability systems. Detailed information about each option can be found below.

  • Bioenergy Option (12 cr.)
  • Solar Energy Option (12 cr.)
  • Sustainability Management and Policy Option (12 cr.)
  • Wind Energy Option (9 cr.)
  • A E 862. Distributed Energy Planning and Management (3 cr.)
  • A B E 884. Biomass Energy Systems (3 cr.)
  • EME 803. Applied Energy Policy (3 cr.)
  • EME 810. Solar Resource Assessment and Economics (3 cr.)
  • EME 812. Utility Solar Power and Concentration (3 cr.)
  • MANGT 510. Project Management (3 cr.)
  • SCM 800. Supply Chain Management (4 cr.)
  • SYSEN 505. Technical Project Management (3 cr.)
  • SYSEN 507. Systems Thinking (3 cr.)
  • SYSEN 520. Systems Engineering (3 cr.)
  • SYSEN 533. Deterministic Models and Simulation (3 cr.)

Please note that most of the listed courses are new courses except for a few existing ones for which permissions have been secured. Please see the appendix for the e-mail communications.

Program Options

Bioenergy Option (12 cr.)
Option Leader: Ali Demirci
Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
College of Agricultural Sciences
231 Agricultural Engineering Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-863-1098
axd29@psu.edu

The Bioenergy Option will create graduates who can lead the development of the rapidly expanding bioenergy industry. Many companies are not able to hire staff with appropriate training to meet their R&D, management, and production needs. As a result, there is a large and unmet need to train professionals at the master’s level with skills in applied science, communication, business, social and industry perspectives for the emerging bio-based economy. Important components of this industry include crop production, harvesting, storage, ecology, genetics, fermentation, engineering, value chain systems modeling, marketing, economics and sociology.

NOTE: A background or courses in calculus, physics, thermodynamics, and plant biology is advised for students interested in this option. Students may contact the Option Leader for additional information.

Students are required to take the following courses:

  • A B E 884. Biomass Energy Systems (3 cr.)
  • A B E 885. Biomass Harvesting and Logistics (3 cr.)
  • A B E 888. Conversion Technologies for Bioenergy Production (3 cr.)
  • FOR 880. Bioenergy Feedstocks (3 cr.)

Solar Energy Option (12 cr.)
Option Leader: Jeffrey Brownson
Assistant Professor, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
212 Hosler Building
University Park, PA 16802
814- 867-4227
brownson@psu.edu

The Solar Energy Option will create graduates who can lead project and policy development in the solar energy industry. The skills of master’s level solar systems project development include solar resource assessment for selected locales, effective communications to design to maximize the solar economic utility to the client/stakeholders, knowledge of thermal- and electric-derived solar conversion technologies, technical knowledge of design in hybridized solar systems design, and the social and policy context of solar systems project design. Courses in the solar option will have two parallel paths to address either 1) Utility-Industrial solar electric and solar thermal projects (e.g., large-scale solar and industrial processing); or 2) Distributed solar electric and solar thermal projects (e.g., residential and commercial built environment).

NOTE: A background in systems science, engineering, or physics is strongly recommended for students interested in this option. Students may contact the Option Leader for more information.

Students are required to take the following courses:

  • A E 878. Solar Project Development and Finance (3 cr.)
  • EME 810. Solar Resource Assessment and Economics (3 cr.)

Students select 6 credits from the following courses:

  • A E 862. Distributed Energy Planning and Management (3 cr.)
  • A E 868. Commercial Solar Electric Systems (3 cr.)
  • EME 811. Solar Thermal Energy for Utilities and Industry (3 cr.)
  • EME 812. Utility Solar Power and Concentration (3 cr.)

Sustainability Management and Policy Option (12 cr.)
Option Leader: Jeffrey Brownson
Assistant Professor, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
212 Hosler Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-867-4227
brownson@psu.edu

The Sustainability Management and Policy Option will create graduates who will lead sustainability project planning and policy development, given the systems approach of sustainability in business and government. The demand is already high for graduate leaders with deep understanding of the science of sustainability, combined with systems acumen to assess risk and plan for renewable energy projects, and communication skills to develop new policy implementation. The expanded fields of renewable energy, energy trading, and sustainability systems management dictate that master's level education be centralized to the science of sustainability, analysis of market and non-market strategies, communication to facilitate energy policy development, and systems thinking approaches to unify the project development approach.

Students are required to take the following courses:

  • B A 850. Sustainability Driven Innovation (3 cr.)
  • EME 803. Applied Energy Policy (3 cr.)
  • EME 805. Renewable Energy and Nonmarket Enterprise (3 cr.)
  • EME 807. Technologies for Sustainability Systems (3 cr.)

Wind Energy Option (9 cr.)
Option Leader: George Lesieutre
Department Head, Department of Aerospace Engineering
College of Engineering
229 Hammond Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-863-0103
g-lesieutre@psu.edu

The Wind Energy Option will produce graduates who have broad understanding of the wind farm development process, as well as technical depth in turbine technology and the science of properly siting wind turbines. Graduates will be able to: model wind project performance; balance the complexities of permitting, logistics, and the ecological impacts of wind project development; and conduct turbine load and acoustic analyses. They will also understand the limitations of models and will be equipped as leaders for producing advancement in the industry.

NOTE: A background in incompressible fluid mechanics, statics, and dynamics is highly recommended for students interested in this option. Students may contact the Option Leader for more information.
Students are required to take the following courses:

  • AERSP 583. Wind Turbine Aerodynamics (3 cr.)
  • AERSP 880. Wind Turbine Systems (3 cr.)
  • AERSP 886. Engineering of Wind Project Development (3 cr.)

Substitutions

Substitutions for the above prescribed courses, either with resident-education courses, alternate online courses, or courses from other institutions, will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and must be petitioned and approved by the Academic Program Chair, with input from the student’s adviser.

Student Aid

Financial aid opportunities for part-time students who participate through the World Campus are discussed at http://worldcampus.psu.edu/StudentServices_Paying.shtml

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2013

Blue Sheet Item #: 41-07-006

Review Date: 06/11/2013

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