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Energy Systems Engineering (ESE) Program
Energy Systems Engineering is a new undergraduate degree offering by the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering. The ESE program was designed to train engineers to address one of this country’s foremost challenges: to achieve energy independence and yet meet the growing demand for energy, while at the same time addressing critical environmental concerns. The program is intended to help meet these challenges by preparing students to be:
- technology leaders in energy conversion and environmental protection systems
- capable managers in the energy industry
- versatile overseers of energy development by the governmental sector
- technically-trained and environmentally-sensitive liaisons between the energy industry and the public.
ESE engineers will be trained in alternative and environmentally-friendly energy conversion systems, as well as more traditional technologies that will continue to play an important role for the foreseeable future.
Although the discipline of mechanical engineering has historically been responsible for the design of energy conversion cycles and equipment, issues outside the conventional realms of engineering are increasingly important to address as new and improved energy conversion systems are implemented. The engineer trained in Energy Systems will be better equipped than traditional Mechanical Engineers to deal with the environmental, legal, political, economic, and ethical aspects of new energy projects.
The ESE degree has many course work requirements in common with the Mechanical Engineering degree, particularly in the thermal, fluids, and energy conversion sciences. However, the ESE program emphasizes energy conversion aspects of Mechanical Engineering and requires course work from UW’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR), course work in environmental ethics and environmental law, and two electives picked from a list of classes that focus attention on energy and the environment. The SENR courses will expose students to issues related to permitting such as preparation of environmental impact studies, and regulations such as the Endangered Species Act. In addition, there are five technical electives that allow the student to choose more detailed study in personal areas of interest, including for example, courses in environmental engineering, wind engineering, solar engineering, nuclear engineering, and petroleum engineering.
It should be emphasized that ESE is a rigorous engineering program that requires dedicated preparation in high school, including four years of math, science, and language arts. In fact, technical writing skills are emphasized throughout the ESE curriculum so that the program has more extensive writing requirements (including two “WC” courses) than most other programs at UW.
The Energy System Engineering degree program obtained its initial accreditation with ABET in 2012 with retroactive application to past graduates. News article "Unique UW Engineering Program Gains Accreditation."
The educational objectives of the ESE program are the same as those listed for the ME program. Energy Systems Engineering degree candidates must meet the academic requirements of the college, obtain a grade of (C) or better in all Engineering Science and required mathematics courses, and must have an average GPA of 2.0 (C) in ESE and ME course work. An International Engineering Option similar to that in ME is also available. No graduate degree program in ESE is anticipated at this time.