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Engineering students at Washington State University (WSU) will soon be able to study cutting-edge technologies for harnessing the power of the wind, sun, biomass, fuel cells and more, thanks to a $150,000 grant provided by Puget Sound Energy (PSE). The class, to be part of WSU's School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will be the first college-level engineering course in Washington dedicated to renewable energy systems.

"The renewable energy field is developing rapidly, and this course will enable our state's top engineering students to stay current with the latest advances in clean power technologies," says Paul Wiegand, vice president of power generation for PSE. "Renewable energy offers tremendous benefits for the environment and the economy, but only if we have people ready to contribute to this growing and valuable industry."

The renewable energy class will debut in fall 2009, with PSE providing an initial $50,000 donation this year to assist with course development efforts, and the remaining balance of $100,000 will be provided over the next five years. The gift from PSE will go towards laboratory supplies and equipment, as well as student travel expenses for class tours of renewable energy facilities such as PSE's Hopkins Ridge Wind Facility.

The coursework is currently in development and is geared toward senior-level majors in engineering, electrical engineering and the sciences. It will range from studies in the design and construction of wind turbines, solar photovoltaic arrays, biomass generation and hydrogen fuel cells, to public policy and the ecological impact of conventional and alternative sources of energy.

"Wind power, solar power and biomass are all growing - both in terms of the energy they produce and in their importance in combating climate change," says Wiegand. "By supporting the studies and research being done at WSU, PSE is able to help ensure that our state has the skills and knowledge to be at the forefront of this fast-paced technology."

SOURCE: Puget Sound Energy



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