Courses in Multiple Disciplines
1:52 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

WIU Awards First Renewable Energy Degree

Among the Western Illinois University Students who graduated in December was the first who earned a degree in renewable energy.

Alan Steele of Milan, received his degree in Renewable Energy and Wind Technology.
He’s the first of 15 students currently working on their degrees, 5 of which will graduate in the spring.

Michele  Aurand, an academic advisor at WIU who oversees the program, she said the degree was created in response to student demand and should provide students with the tools they need.

“It’s such a new field, but it’s still growing,” Aurand said. “So I think as long as students can be flexible and grow with this field, I think they’re going to be pretty successful in finding a job.”

Advisor Michele Aurand with Graduate Alex Steele.
Advisor Michele Aurand with Graduate Alex Steele.
Credit Western Illinois University

The degree’s formal title is a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a concentration in Renewable Energy and Wind Technology.

Aurand said the program’s variety of courses make it well suited to fall under Interdisciplinary Studies.   She said the degree bundles courses  in areas including economics, cartography, agriculture, and logistics.  
Students can specialize in wind energy, biofuels, or policy and planning.  

Aurand says she receives inquiries from high school students interested in the degree.  She said Illinois State University is the only other university in the state, that she’s aware of, that has a similar program.

I think as long as students can be flexible and grow with this field, I think they're going to be pretty successful in finding a job.