Focus on: Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Climate issues are triggering a new realm of business challenges and opportunities as companies seek to minimize carbon output and energy costs, and assess alternative sources of energy.

In response to student demand, in early 2010 EMTM introduced a new Energy, Sustainability and the Environment course cluster focusing on the practical application of relevant science, business management concepts and public policy developments. Courses focus on ways to take strategic advantage of constantly evolving energy technologies and markets.

“Our new Energy, Sustainability and the Environment cluster is designed to give students the quantitative skills to know when alternative sources of power will be a viable choice for their business or industry and to navigate new markets created by carbon emissions trading,” says Dwight Jaggard, director of the EMTM program and Penn professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering. “Some students may also find these new courses helpful as they evaluate and potentially pursue new career opportunities within the energy sector.”  Penn’s EMTM program prepares leaders who can bridge the gap between technology and business.

Who can most benefit?

“Climate change is a given,” says Andrew Huemmler, Ph.D., who teaches EMTM’s Energy Commerce & Policy course during the winter term. “There is overwhelming scientific evidence. What’s new is a staggering realm of related business opportunities in an emerging economy that will sooner or later put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. This problem isn’t going away. The value of avoiding putting carbon into the atmosphere will surely increase over the long-term. Many players will want to enter this market; and it will be very messy in its early stages. The opportunities for risk and reward will be great. But firms that figure out any little corner of the coming low carbon economy and get in there early are going to experience huge first mover advantages.”

Another EMTM course, Sustainable Energy Options, provides in-depth technical analysis of existing and emerging alternative energy sources (such as solar, wind power, hydroelectric, geothermal, nuclear and biomass fuels) and will focus on scalability, cost, efficiency, market-readiness, and mass and energy balances. Sean Holleran, Ph.D., a lecturer in Penn’s department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, leads this spring term course which features guest speakers who have expertise implementing alternative energy sources.

“We provide an understanding of just how close these new energy sources are to being far enough along to displace current energy technologies,” says Holleran. “Because decisions about where to purchase energy and how to create sustainable processes will soon become unavoidable, business leaders will increasingly need the skills to assess emerging energy sources.”

Representative positions of candidates who could benefit from EMTM’s Energy offerings:

Recent participating Companies from the Energy Sector

EMTM students have come from a range of energy firms, including:

For more about industries and organizations represented in EMTM, see: Companies.

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Courses available in Energy, Sustainability and the Environment and related technologies

Energy Commerce and Policy
EMTM 681 examines two primary aspects of modern energy systems: how existing energy systems work, and how they are governed. U.S. energy systems will be a principal focus. Where does energy come from? How is it transformed? How is it delivered? How is it bought and sold? The well established policy framework each energy system operates within will be discussed, with particular focus on emerging environmental demands, such as "cap & trade" and Copenhagen. By term's end, successful students will have developed an intellectual framework to better understand the challenges facing modern energy systems.

Sustainable Energy Options
The ideas behind renewable resources and sustainable energy are becoming more prominent in today’s energy-challenged world.  The current standard of a fossil fuels based system presents environmental concerns, limited resources concerns, and future generation concerns.  This course will discuss and compare (from a mass and energy balances perspective) the existing hierarchy (coal, oil, and natural gas) to rising alternatives (wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass, nuclear, etc.).  This course will include current events and industry speakers to provide up to the minute developments in this area.

 Advanced Materials — Provides engineering managers with an understanding of the properties, technology, advantages, limitations, and future development of advanced materials — enabling them to critique and evaluate proposed applications and markets.  

Data Mining — Current methods and industry trends in data mining and business intelligence, including data mining techniques — how they work and when to use them; data warehousing — approaches and challenges; and emerging data mining methods, including text mining and web mining. 

Information Technology Strategy — Rapidly changing information and communications technologies have profound implications for the quality of everyday life, the competitive position of firms in all industries, and the highly volatile activity in the securities market. This course addresses the implications of emerging IT business and technology models for competitive strategy in large companies.

Microelectronics — Microelectronic technology and devices have been crucial to many recent technological advances and will continue to have an impact. This course looks at the technology behind microelectronics, some of its latest products and trends, as well as the competitive status of this industry in the global economy.  

Nanotechnology — No scientific field or industry sector will be unaffected by the revolutionary opportunities presented by nanotechnology. This course presents the concepts behind the mystery of ‘small’, and the techniques and applications that will help transform pharmaceutical and biotechnology enterprises of the future.  

Photonics — As limitations of speed, size, bandwidth, power and reliability affect many electronic devices and systems, photonics is a fast-moving area with significant applications to optical communication systems, lasers, medical devices and other high-technology areas.  


For a more comprehensive course listing, see: Courses.

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Related Research Centers

The University of Pennsylvania's research centers are multidisciplinary seedbeds for innovation and applied research, and EMTM students benefit from access to this pipeline of new knowledge. Several members of the EMTM faculty are closely involved with centers investigating emerging information technologies.

Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) brings together business leaders and professors at Wharton and Penn, along with a network of leading experts in relevant fields from around the world to discuss and research selected topics concerning business and the natural environment. IGEL focuses on education and research on best practices, emerging salient and cutting-edge environmental issues, proposed or likely national and international regulation, and more. IGEL’s annual conference addresses timely environmental issues.

The Penn Center for Energy Innovation, or “Pennergy,” is the University’s newest research center.  Pennergy will harness the collaborative efforts of energy researchers across campus to create innovative technologies and materials aimed at meeting the world’s growing energy demand and achieving environmental and economic sustainability.  A shared effort between the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Arts and Sciences, Pennergy will utilize the strengths of Penn researchers to develop practical and innovative solutions to better use current energy sources and to create sustainable energy technologies. Currently, world-class researchers at the Center, with expertise in materials, nanoscale science and engineering, and in bio-mimetic materials are taking a team approach to investigating solar photovoltaics, solar-to-fuel conversion, thermoelectrics, fuel cells and mechanical studies of the behavior of material subject to real world environments.

In early 2010, the University of Pennsylvania and Tsinghua University in China announced agreements to build upon research and academic collaborations between the two schools. In particular, the universities signed agreements reaffirming their commitment to environmental sustainability, through the work of the Penn-Tsinghua T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation and Energy Studies, originally formed in 2006. Today’s agreements build on formal agreements between Penn's School of Design, Law School and School of Engineering and Applied Science and their Tsinghua counterparts.

Wharton Sustainability Program

Working in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s campus-wide greening efforts, the Wharton Sustainability Program is identifying and implementing substantive reduction in the environmental impact of the Wharton community. Efforts include energy use, water use and waste reduction, increased recycling and reuse, cleaning with green products and methods, student and stakeholder engagement on sustainability issues and sourcing sustainable products.  

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