Professor Atam Dhawan on the new Power and Energy Systems degree
In the fall of 2008, NJIT will offer a new master’s degree in Power and Energy Systems. In this interview, Atam Dhawan, chairman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, discusses the new major. Dhawan oversees professors and students who are developing the next generation of cell phones, iPods, laptops and MP3 players. But now, with this new degree, Dhawan’s department is accepting students who want to develop the alternative energies that America hungers for. If you think this new major might be for you, read what Dhawan has to say below.
Why offer a master’s degree in Power and Energy Systems?
Recent studies have shown that America’s current power and energy resources will not be sufficient to meet the future needs of our country. Talented engineers and technologists are also needed to improve our current energy system. This degree program will prepare students to not only work in the energy and power industry but to revolutionize that industry. Also, more than 50 percent of the people who work in the power industry are expected to retire sometime this decade. At the same time, developing clean and more-efficient energy resources and technologies is now a national as well as an international priority. The students who graduate from this program and get to develop alternative-energy sources will have fascinating and well-paying careers. And at the same time, they will help our nation improve its environment. Few things right now are more important than that.
What types of new power and energy systems will students study?
Students will study technology advancements in power generation, control and management as well how to design alternative-energy resources. They’ll learn how our conventional power systems work, but they will also study alternate-energy sources such as solar, fuel cell, wind and renewable energy. Students will also study how to better control and manage our current energy system.
What are some of the shortcomings of our power and energy system?
Power-generation methods have been limited, and they are expected to be insufficient to meet our future needs. And the power distribution and control technologies commonly used today are also old and inefficient. So there is a lot of good work to be done in this area and students in this degree program will be at the forefront of that progressive work.
Can you give a few examples of classes that will be offered?
We’ll offer an array of interesting classes, many of which will be offered in the evening, for the convenience of working professionals. Some of the classes will include Power Generation and Distribution Systems, Renewable Energy System as well as Computer Methods for Power Systems. But we’ll also have classes in Fuel Cell Technology, Nuclear Power Technology, Environmental Impact Analysis, Safety Engineering Methods and Technology Management.
What kind of students might be interested in this degree program?
It will be well suited for students who have studied electrical engineering on some level or who have a degree in it. Students with other technical or scientific degrees who have an interest in power and energy will also do well in this program. And of course people working in this field, or related fields, should like this program.
What kind of jobs will await graduates of this program? In what industries might they work?
The power industry has a great demand for engineers because, as I mentioned, many engineers will retire soon. The Department of Energy has also established an office to deal with clean fusion energy. That office will in turn create many jobs. And with support from President Bush research funding agencies, including the Department of Energy, will soon double their research funding in nanotechnology and alternate energy. That, too, will create jobs. Students who graduate with this degree will thus be the ones to develop the technologies that the government, the people, and the private market all want: nanotechnology, solar cells, fuel cells and related fusion sciences. That’s a very exciting opportunity for students.
(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)