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What does an energy engineer do?

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  1. Dec 25, 2015 #1
    I'm about to apply to college and i was really wondering what is energy engineering? what do you do ? will it be valuable in the future, and what courses would you need to focus on in order to become one?
    Thanks any thing helps really
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2015 #2
    I have not heard of "Energy Engineering." I have heard of "Energy Managers." They are the people in large industrial organizations who bid on electricity futures on the grid to ensure a supply of electricity to heavy users. They are basically the managers of the flow of money for electricity. They may also help prioritize capital expenditures for high energy use situations, and to suggest areas for future adjustment or improvement. To do that, they'll need at least a passing familiarity with engineering.

    It is a desk job; an important desk job, but a desk job nonetheless. Nobody gets a position like that right out of school. You'd need experience and lots of training to understand enough background to do that work effectively.
     
  4. Dec 25, 2015 #3

    jtbell

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    If you've found a college with a program in energy engineering, can you give us a link to a description and course schedule for it?
     
  5. Dec 26, 2015 #4
  6. Dec 26, 2015 #5

    Vanadium 50

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  7. Dec 26, 2015 #6
    Vanadium's point is very accurate. An Engineering Technology degree will get you a technician's job. However, parlaying that experience toward higher paying jobs will probably be more difficult than you realize.
     
  8. Dec 26, 2015 #7
    There are similar programs in my country (Austria). As your linked articles says, they are 'multi-disciplinary', so you learn a bit of everything - electrical engineering, mechanical energy, thermodynamics, photovoltaics, fossil fuel, economics of the energy market, energy law etc.
    Here people pursue such degrees more typically a second / post-graduate degree on top of a more specialized education or hands-on experierence; many programs are tailored to the needs of people working full-time. If the degree is useful also depends on how and if your university gives students the option to work in industry projects - here such projects are common and often mandatory so you might find your future employer as a student.

    'Energy Manager' (as Jake explained) or 'Energy Auditor' (working as an external consultant with corporations to reduce energy costs, improve energy efficiency, and make them compliant with legal requirements) are actually typical jobs for graduates of such programs. Typical students are e.g. engineering consultants who want to specialize in energy, people who have been involved in planning power plants but want a formal education, or engineers working in manufacturing or some other energy-intense industry who want to transition from, say, project manager or head of a small department to energy manager.
    The 'well-rounded', but not too specialized education also qualifies for jobs in 'public outreach' and education and the like.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  9. Dec 26, 2015 #8
    Vanadium's reference suggests to me the term 'technologist' is applying existing components to real world situations; the 'engineer' might be the person developing and designing such components. In the former AT&T where I worked, Bell Laboratories did fundamental research 'and engineering' and developed/invented transistors, lasers,etc, and while Western Electric, now roughly Alcatel-Lucent, were the 'technologists' that manufactured components and equipment like vacuum tube and the solid state radio transmitters used on towers all over the place.

    The particular description you posted there focuses on renewable, that is, 'green', energy. A positive aspect of the renewable area of energy is that it is currently popular, and of course 'green', a negative is that it often requires governmental subsidies to be cost effective. I am beginning to see more studies that forecast a cooling climate rather than warming, mostly as a result of reduced sunspot activity. I have no idea if that's correct, but if accurate, the drive to reduce C02 emissions, and 'all things green', might suffer a quick reversal.

    My understanding is that Great Britain and perhaps Germany are already cutting back on renewable subsidies as they have hurt corporate competitiveness in those countries. On the other hand, in the US, the Ominbus spending bill just passed in Congress reportedly includes another five years of wind and solar subsidies. Meantime fracking technology is producing low oil prices world wide. Here in NJ, USA, I just received a notice from my utility that my natural gas bill will be discounted 30% for Dec/Jan/Feb. You should check in Canada to see what is trending. How all this plays out is anybody's guess.

    Here is one article to give you an idea of the complexity involved when politics and energy collide:
    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-22/germany-s-green-energy-is-an-expensive-success

    Another energy area, currently out of favor, is nuclear power. After Japan's nuclear power plant disaster [mostly because the Fukishima power plant was not only immediately adjacent to the ocean, and almost at sea level, but also in a Tsunami/earthquake zone.] and the environmental damage which resulted, governments have become skittish about nuclear power. In fact while nuclear power plants are quite safe when built in sensible locations, the radioactive waste remains a political issue.

    You can search online if interested, to see relative costs of producing power via different methods. For example, last time I looked, large commercial solar arrays were reported to be about 25% more expensive than fossil fuel produced power. The costs of solar cells themselves have come down dramatically in the last ten years or so.

    For US, try searching for the federal government Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational outlooks for expected growth and salaries in different job categories. Beware of ALL forecasts!!
    For example,
    http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
     
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