June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.33.1 - 12.33.8
A Delphi Study to Project the Future of Alternative Energy and its Implication to Engineering Technology Abstract
The future of energy supplies in our world is largely in question. It is widely accepted that the world’s inhabitants cannot continue to depend on traditional, non-renewable, fuels as they harm the environment and are in limited supply. Researchers and research organizations worldwide have committed themselves to the research and development of alternative energies and its storage and must put out a similar effort to educate the general public and future energy users and decision makers in the alternative energies being developed. This paper reports the findings of a Delphi study conducted by the authors to determine what components should be included in the curriculum of an alternative energy program and also find out what emerging technologies are likely to have the most impact over the next 5-20 years. According to the Delphi panel of experts, most of the obstacles to alternative energy development are more political in nature than technical.
Alternative Energies has again come to the forefront as part of curriculum reform at all levels, K- 16. The impetus for this renewed interest has been the political situation in the Middle East, the rising cost of energy, limited fossil fuel supplies, and the concern for an increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that some believe is causing global warming. The renewed interest has brought about the need to be proactive in developing programs that will be responsive to supplying the needs for workers with the technical competence and “know-how” to design, build, install, inspect, service, troubleshoot, maintain, manage, and in general, be good consumers of the alternative energy technologies being developed. This study utilized a Delphi approach to develop a consensus of what experts in the field of alternative energies believe should be critical components of a program preparing individuals with a high level of competence in the field.
The Delphi technique was utilized because it pools the knowledge of experts within a defined field to build a consensus to forecast what is likely to occur in the years ahead. Such projections are very accurate because it is utilizing the knowledge of those who are at the cutting edge of research and study in a particular field and are therefore very much in touch with what the issues and trends are in a field. The Delphi method has been very useful to other curricular areas to pool expert knowledge for planning for future trends , , . A panel of experts was identified for participation in the study that included individuals with expertise in the major areas comprising the alternative energy field so that a balanced perspective would be developed in the consensus building process.
The first round of the Delphi study started with an open ended questionnaire mailed via email asking the panel of experts to respond to three general questions as follows:
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