June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Engineering and Public Policy
12.651.1 - 12.651.9
Engineering Students Transforming Public Policy to Promote Green Power Abstract
Junior and senior engineering clinic students at Rowan University have been able to directly participate in the influencing of public zoning policy within the State of New Jersey as part of their work on the NJ Anemometer Loan Program1 and the NJ Wind Working Group for Small Wind and Terrestrial Applications2. The project has enabled the students to learn first hand how public policy impacts the expansion of the green power market (specifically wind energy) in specific municipalities. As part of their project-based learning experience in the clinic3-4 the student team has documented that a wide range of public policy positions, embodied in local zoning ordinances, will directly affect how many customers will pursue wind energy as a potential option for generating their own electric power. The New Jersey Clean Energy Program5 provides some of the most lucrative rebates for renewable energy system installation in the nation and represents an embodiment of the State’s policy commitment to become 20% renewable by 20206 This policy driver has resulted in an exponentially growing market for photovoltaic systems, but local zoning policy has limited the expansion of the wind market though many of the rebate levels are comparable (the rebates have been designed to bring simple investment paybacks below 10 years for interested consumers). This clinic experience allows students to participate in the public policy debate and they have presented their results to the NJ Wind Working group which has been set up by the State to propose changes to public policy that could lead to broader adoption and faster market expansion for wind technology. One major purpose of the student clinic project is to provide the State with a full report on the feasibility of installing wind measurement systems and wind turbines based upon the feedback of surveys sent to the zoning officers of over 80 municipalities that lie in the richest wind resource areas of the State. The result of the work has raised the students’ awareness about how public policy affects their careers and the engineering projects that they attempt to perform. The interplay between public policy and project-based learning is dramatized by these types of clinic experiences where students attempt to solve the real world’s problems in real time.
Energy and fuel prices are rising exponentially and societal consumption habits are ever increasing the demand for power. Consumer purchasing power, now more than ever, seems to be dramatically affecting the cost of living and the environment. Population sprawl continues to plague the earth and to rapidly create communities where they had never been envisioned. Rowan University has a reputation for utilizing the skills of its professors and students in an engineering clinic program geared towards providing real time engineering solutions for local organizations in exchange for compensation of the overhead cost to do so. In recent years some of the clinic projects offered at the College of Engineering specifically address the well being of the public and the protection of the environment. One such clinic project is trying to provide solutions in renewable energy – influencing public policy toward adopting green power in particular. The State of New Jersey through its Board of Public Utilities – Office of Clean Energy has allocated funds to encourage this work.
Jansson, P. M., & Riddell, W., & Vizzi, N., & Bhatia, K., & McDevitt, R. (2007, June), Engineering Students Transforming Public Policy To Promote Green Power Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2613
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