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Experiences And Teaching Tools In Alternative Energy Education

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Experiences in Teaching Energy Courses

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.715.1 - 12.715.9



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Paper Authors


Slobodan Petrovic Arizona State University

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Dr. Slobodan Petrovic is an associate professor at the Arizona State University, with teaching and research interests in the areas of alternative energy (fuel cells, hydrogen production and storage, CO2 reduction), MEMS and sensors. Prior to joining ASU Dr. Petrovic held appointments at Clear Edge Power (formerly Quantum Leap Technology) as a Vice President of Engineering; at Neah Power Systems as Director of Systems Integration; and Motorola, Inc. as a Fuel Cell Group Manager and Reliability Manager. Dr. Petrovic has over 20 years of experience in energy systems; fuel cells and batteries; industrial electrochemical processes; catalysis and sensors. He has 50 journal publications and conference proceedings; 2 book contributions, and 20 issued or submitted patents.

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Lakshmi Munukutla Arizona State University

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John Robertson Arizona State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Experiences and Teaching Tools in Alternative Energy Education


Alternative Energy programs are emerging as a result of the growing need to develop the economy of the future that will rely not only on fossil fuels, but also on renewable and clean energy sources. The new generation of engineers that will support this shift in the energy production must develop truly multidisciplinary skills and be able to respond efficiently to various aspects of the alternative energy technology. “Fuel Cells for Portable Electronics” is a new course thought as a part of the alternative energy curriculum. The initial experience in teaching this course is presented in this paper. It underscores potential challenges because of the fact that engineering students join the graduate program in alternative energy from a variety of engineering backgrounds and with inconsistent knowledge of basic chemistry. The paper reports differences in student abilities to understand the fundamental electrochemistry concepts absolutely crucial for the subsequent introduction of more complex and practical fuel cell design and evaluation methods. A cursory comparison of test results revealed clear dependence on the student demographics. A qualitative conclusion was drawn recommending proper monitoring, exchange of experiences, and possible modification of prerequisites. Furthermore, a simple mnemonic tool was presented as an effective method to teach electrochemistry to engineering students.


The main objective of this paper is to bring awareness about challenges when teaching energy related courses, such as those dealing with fuel cells, to engineering students of variable prior exposure to chemistry. Furthermore, the paper contains a discussion of the novel and entertaining methods for overcoming the lack of fundamental knowledge of electrochemistry for those students with little or rudimentary understanding of electrochemical principles while not sacrificing the ultimate outcomes of course, which are to provide practical, industry ready skills. These methods introduce equally challenging concept of designing an engineering course with ultimate integral quality expressed through a complete, interconnected understanding of the overall main objectives rather than fragmented knowledge acceptance typical for students with not well defined foundations. The paper also reflects the experience from working with limited student population and can only claim qualitative importance and informative character. As the alternative energy education becomes more important and a “main-stream” concentration for many institutions the observations and methods presented here could stand to gain validity and pave the way for a more “awakened” approach to teaching the alternative energy.

Institutional Background

The particular research data on the curriculum flexibility in engineering education was acquired at the Arizona State University at the Polytechnic campus. The Polytechnic was established in 1996 and the student enrolment grew from 1,016 in 1996 to 6,545 in 2006. The number of degrees offered is 30 baccalaureate and 12 graduate degrees. The mission of the College of Technology and Applied Sciences is to offer high-quality, problem oriented, learn-by-doing

Petrovic, S., & Munukutla, L., & Robertson, J. (2007, June), Experiences And Teaching Tools In Alternative Energy Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2810

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