Beginning in the fall, Central Washington University will offer a new degree program tailored to the energy sector.
The board of trustees approved creation of a bachelor’s degree in integrated energy management, the first of its kind in the state.
“Graduates of this program will find themselves in high demand,” said Elvin Delgado, CWU professor of geography and the program’s department chairman. “But our graduates will do more than just fill the shoes of past employees. They will have a role in determining energy policy for the next century.”
The goal of the CWU program is twofold: to help create more employees for the energy industry and reincorporate fossil fuel issues into energy discussions and careers.
CWU says current and future energy manpower needs must be addressed immediately, as baby boomer employees will retire in great numbers over the next few years.
As examples of the impending shortage, program advocates pointed to the situations at Puget Sound Energy and the Bonneville Power Administration, two well-known energy providers in the region. The BPA, for instance, expects 1,070 employees to retire by 2017.
Federal initiatives since the 1970s, meanwhile, have provided incentives for a push toward alternative and renewable resources while largely ignoring fossil fuels still in use.
According to program materials filed with the board of trustees, the program’s focus on both alternative energy and fossil fuels is needed because many similar programs in other schools focus only on renewable resources such as solar, wind or geothermal power.
There will be three specializations — integrated energy policy, integrated energy business and integrated power systems — for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in integrated energy management.
The curriculum will include courses in geography, mathematics, English, physics and supply-chain management, among other subjects.
According to documents provided to the board, program officials expect the first enrollment class to have about 10 students, and they project potential enrollment of 110 students within six years.
The degree program was developed by the university’s Institute for Integrated Energy Studies and approved by the board of trustees last week.