Princeton launches Program in Sustainable Energy to address global need.

By Hilary Parker
June 25, 2008

With the energy crisis becoming ever more urgent, Princeton has established a new Program in Sustainable Energy to provide students with the quantitative skills and interdisciplinary perspective needed to develop innovative energy systems for the future.

Launching in the 2008-2009 academic school year, the certificate program will be open to sophomores, juniors and seniors with strong backgrounds in engineering and science.

Joseph Vogel with Prof. Yiguang Ju

“Energy and climate change is the world’s top issue not only for sustainable economic growth, but for the earth’s environment and the harmony of human life,” said mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Yiguang Ju, the inaugural director of the new program. “Princeton is taking a lead in educating future leaders to make wise decisions about energy policy and provide innovative technologies for sustainable energy systems. The program will give students a broad understanding of the current energy resources, technologies for energy conversion and storage, the new technologies on the horizon, and their impact on environment and climate.”

To provide the essential technical foundation for their work in the program, students will be required to take two core courses, one in energy technology and another in climate change and geo-environmental science. Based upon their interests, students will then choose four electives from a variety of subject areas, including the engineering disciplines, ecology and evolutionary biology, politics and Near Eastern studies.

“I want the students to become confident in their ability to come to terms with a challenge that will be prominent throughout their lives -- I call this challenge: ‘fitting on the planet,’” said mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Robert Socolow, who teaches “Energy for a Greenhouse-Constrained World,” which will be one of the sustainable energy program’s core courses. “Over the next 50 years, humanity is going to redesign its industrial system to take into account global environmental constraints, including constraints on water and fuel availability and changes in the atmosphere. Many of the students are going to address these problems directly in their careers. I want to help the students to think boldly, to think environmentally, and to think globally.”