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Embedding Renewable Energy and Sustainability into the Engineering Technology Curricula

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Curriculum and Facility Developments for Innovative Energy Education

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.518.1 - 25.518.18



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Paper Authors


Radian G. Belu Drexel University

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Radian Belu is Assistant Professor within the Engineering Technology (ET) program, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA. He is holding the second position as Research Assistant Professor at Desert Research Institute, Renewable Energy Center, Reno, Nev. Before joining to Drexel University, Belu held faculty and research positions at universities and research institutes in Romania, Canada, and the United States. He also worked for several years in industry as a project manager and senior consultant. He has taught and developed undergraduate and graduate courses in electronics, power systems, control and power electronics, electric machines, instrumentation, radar and remote sensing, numerical methods and data analysis, space and atmosphere physics, and physics. His research interests included power system stability, control and protection, renewable energy system analysis, assessment and design, power electronics and electric machines for wind energy conversion, radar and remote sensing, wave and turbulence simulation, measurement and modeling, numerical modeling, electromagnetic compatibility, and engineering education. During his career, Belu published several papers in referred journals and in conference proceedings in his areas of the research interests. He has also been PI or Co-PI for various research projects United States and abroad in power systems analysis and protection, load and energy demand forecasting and analysis, renewable energy analysis, assessment and design, turbulence and wave propagation, radar and remote sensing, instrumentation, atmosphere physics, electromagnetic compatibility, and engineering education.

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Irina Nicoleta Ciobanescu Husanu Drexel University

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Irina Ciobanescu Husanu (Co-PI) is Assistant Professor in applied engineering at Drexel University. She received her Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and also a M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering. Her research interest is in thermo-fluid sciences with applications in micro-combustion, fuel cells, green fuels, and plasma assisted combustion. Husanu has prior industrial experience in aerospace engineering that encompasses both theoretical analysis and experimental investigations such as designing and testing of propulsion systems including design and development of pilot testing facility, mechanical instrumentation, and industrial applications of aircraft engines. Also, in the past seven years, she gained experience in teaching ME and ET courses in thermal-fluid and energy conversion areas from various levels of instruction and addressed to a broad spectrum of students, from freshmen to seniors, from high school graduates to adult learners. She also has extended experience in curriculum development.

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Embedding Renewable Energy and Sustainability into the Engineering Technology CurriculaThe world demand for electrical power is increasing and conventional energy resources are fastdepleting, making the renewable energy based electricity the only alternative. The renewableenergy industry is growing rapidly with both the global solar and wind industries seeing >40%growth per annum over the last five years. Furthermore, the market for fuel cells for standbypower is also starting to grow. Carbon tax, pollution reduction, and emissions trading legislationare paving the way for environmental accountability and sustainability in the industries. In thelast decades there have been significant advances in the renewable energy technologies, energyefficiency and sustainability, hence, the demand for trained engineers and technicians in theseareas increased. To maintain current living standards in developed countries and increase thequality of life in developing countries, sustainability needs to be at the core of all engineeringactivities. This requires the development of innovative curricula, new courses and laboratories toeducate students to work in this rapidly developing industry. Teaching sustainability andalternative energy on today engineering curriculum has ever more become an essential feature.However, the pace of change in education curriculums is growing exponentially due to numerouslegislative changes, financial or administrative constraints. Engineering education is must becharged with an environmental agenda due to response to wider changes in the society.Educators are regularly modifying curriculum content to embrace technological changes inlearning outcomes. The renewable energy and sustainability are highly interdisciplinary, crossingover between a numbers of research areas, making quite difficult to be covered in a singlecourse. However, the renewable energy and sustainability technologies have strong potential forhands-on multi-disciplinary project-based learning. A natural and efficient way of teaching andembedding renewable energy and sustainability into curriculum is the problem-oriented andproject-based learning approach. We are discussing, in this paper a series of such projects,included into our senior project design, power electronics and renewable energy courses.The structure of these projects, outcomes and observations, lessons learned and futureimprovements are discussed in details. Design and development of renewable energy andsustainability projects allow students to work on projects that can be relevant to current leadingedge research and technology. This paper also presents the development of an alternativeenergy technology course as part of this effort to include renewable energy andsustainability in our curriculum. The motivation for the course is outlined and a detaileddescription of the topics covered in the course, the course outcomes and course laboratoryexperiments are also given and detailed. The course and the projects are also part of the efforts ofto establish a renewable energy and sustainability program at our university. The usefulness ofthis approach will be evaluated and feedback from other educators will be highly appreciated.

Belu, R. G., & Ciobanescu Husanu, I. N. (2012, June), Embedding Renewable Energy and Sustainability into the Engineering Technology Curricula Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21276

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