Motivated by energy security requirements and the desire to create a sustainable and safe environment, there is a growing need to transition gradually from fossil fuels toward new and emerging energy sources. The energy solutions of the future will require a significant amount of research and development, as well as increased awareness and acceptance of new and emerging energy technologies. Creating a highly educated workforce who will contribute to overcoming future energy challenges is a key component in bringing about this transition. One method of supporting workforce development in future energy solutions is to incorporate new and emerging energy technology directly into required undergraduate coursework. To this end, renewable energy projects were developed and implemented in a required introductory thermal science course in a mechanical engineering technology curriculum. The goal of the projects was to provide students with a deeper understanding of the need for, the advantages of, and the difficulties associated with renewable energy sources. The open-ended semester-long student projects included (1) research on the history and implementation of a renewable energy source, (2) development of an experimental application of the energy source in an energy conversion process, and (3) an economic analysis of the energy source in an assumed application or case study. This paper presents the design and development of these renewable energy projects, and informal and formal evaluation of the effectiveness of the projects over two years of classroom implementation. In addition, the link between the projects and select accreditation criteria for engineering technology programs is discussed.

Basic Research Needs for the Hydrogen Economy: Report of the Basic Energy Sciences Workshop on Hydrogen Production, Storage, and Use. May 13–15, 2003, Office of Science, US Department of Energy.
Press Release from Department of Energy, October 28, 2003, Retrieved January 31, 2006, from
Annual Energy Outlook 2006 with Projections to 2030 (Early Release) - Overview. Energy Information Administration, Retrieved January 31, 2006, from
Energy Education Forum. Remarks prepared for Energy Secretary Bodman, January 5, 2006, U.S. Department of Energy.
Cooper, H. L., 2004, “Using Projects to Improve Understanding of Introductory Thermal Science Concepts,” Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Salt Lake City, UT.
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Retrieved May 30, 2006, from
ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Technology Programs, Retrieved Fall 2004, from
This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.