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Wisconsin Ag News Headlines
UW-Platteville to Offer New Major in Renewable Energy
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 03/06/2012

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will soon offer a major in Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems for students who wish to pursue careers in the green technology sector. The major, approved in February by the UW System Board of Regents, will expand upon the previously offered minor and will give students a broad understanding of both traditional and renewable energy options and their economic and environmental impact on the world. The program will starting in the fall of 2012.

Campus officials say the major will offer two emphases, including one that is technology-based, and one that is geared more towards project management. Both tracks will cover sustainability, wind and solar energy, building efficiency, biomass energy and project management.

"In 2006, there was a big boom of ethanol plants that were being built in Wisconsin," said Timothy Zauche, professor of chemistry and engineering physics. "But the problem was that a lot of the business administration majors did not understand the technology aspect of running an ethanol plant. The renewable energy major seeks to correct this."

Zauche describes the major as a blend between someone who understands the technology of renewable energy systems and the business administration of working with companies to utilize those technologies to make them more energy efficient.

According to a 2010 Office of Energy Independence report, 15,000 jobs are expected to be available in the green energy sector in Wisconsin within the next 15 years.

Meanwhile, the university already has many resources on campus that would aid in teaching sustainable and renewable energy systems, including the solar panels on Russell Hall and the wind turbine outside of Southwest Hall. Other university energy conservation programs such as Recyclemania and the switch to biodegradable plastic in the Markee Pioneer Student Center are part of what the major hopes to do, which is educate the public about renewable energy.

Both tracks of the major require 120 credits for degree completion, and required courses range from engineering, to economics, to accounting, to philosophy. There are currently around 80 students enrolled in the minor, one of the most popular on campus, so the program wants to eventually reach around 50 new students in the major per year.


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