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Graduates of the University Wyoming School of Energy Resources' undergraduate program will be better prepared for the work force as a result of recent curriculum changes.
The "Energy Resource Management and Development" degree was approved Friday by the UW Board of Trustees. It aims to produce graduates ready for careers as energy industry managers who can bridge the complex issues of exploration, development and management of energy resources in Wyoming and globally.
The program produced its first two graduates in December; about 50 students are currently enrolled.
Based on input from students, industry and participating UW departments, School of Energy Resources (SER) leaders revised the undergraduate energy resource science program to give students an unmatched educational opportunity in the best possible learning environment.
"We want to ensure the professional preparation of graduates relative to demands, skills and competencies necessary for competitive success in the rapidly evolving energy work force," says Don Roth, SER's deputy director for academics. The new name for the degree is a result of those changes, which take effect for the fall 2012 semester.
"It reflects a whole new approach to the curriculum," he says. "The changes will promote decision-making skills to solve energy challenges faced by society."
The program maintains core courses in math, chemistry, physics, thermodynamics and natural resources, in addition to economics, business management, accounting and finance. One of the more significant changes is that the program now includes three specific tracks: fossil fuel-based energy, renewable energy, and energy land and water management. Students will focus on their chosen tracks through upper-level courses in those fields.
"The program will continue to be interdisciplinary, but we want to concentrate to a greater degree to gain more depth in those fields," Roth says. "We want to make sure we achieve the proper balance between breadth and depth. We know making this investment in students and their education gives them skills that are important to them and to Wyoming's success in the energy sector."
In addition, the revised program encourages internships and undergraduate research in the students' area of concentration.
"We're connecting classroom learning experiences with opportunities for relevant application and practice," Roth says. "We believe this will accelerate the integration of students into the work force."
Students already enrolled in the program will have the option to continue under the current curriculum, but Roth expects most will move to the new approach.
The program is a collaborative effort among SER and the colleges of Engineering and Applied Science, Arts and Sciences, Business, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Law.