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PSU launches flexible certificate program for evolving energy industry workforce
Author: Christina Williams
Posted: November 19, 2015

The sprawling energy industry is one of shifting policy landscapes, new technologies, and changing consumer demands. It’s also a cornerstone of the Portland-area economy where a growing renewable energy sector and a matrix of public, private, and nonprofit organizations work together to create a vibrant and complex marketplace—for both jobs and energy. 

Against this backdrop, Portland State University (PSU) is introducing a Graduate Certificate in Energy Policy and Management that will provide students with key skills for work in the energy industry that matches their interests as well as employer needs. Flexible graduate coursework combinations allow students to customize their studies in areas such as analyzing and developing effective energy policy; forecasting and systems analysis; efficiency program management; evaluating policy impacts; and planning for sustainable energy and climate futures. 

“PSU's Graduate Certificate in Energy Policy and Management fills a key need in the Portland market for training in the dynamic and changing energy industry," said Jim Piro, president and CEO of Portland General Electric. "Developing a cohort of professionals with a strong understanding of energy policy will help us lay the groundwork for a reliable, sustainable and affordable energy future for Oregonians and the communities they call home.”  

“The necessary and challenging work to create a more sustainable energy future depends upon the multiple dimensions being fostered through this new curriculum,” said Margie Harris, executive director, Energy Trust of Oregon. “The leadership, technical skills, and practical approaches PSU is already known for in this arena will predictably become even more powerful, helping us all forge a new and much-needed path forward. The fact that it is right here in Portland is a major advantage.”

The graduate certificate program is available as an add-on for students in existing graduate programs as well as an option for professionals and college graduates looking to hone skills for a career in energy. The courses offered in the energy certificate represent a unique collaboration among five PSU units—Public Administration, Urban Studies and Planning, Economics, Engineering Technology Management, and Systems Science. Industry advisers, including PSU alumni with experience in energy policy and management fields, will play an important role in the certificate.

“This program was developed after extended conversations with our colleagues in the regional energy industry,” said Loren Lutzenhiser, a professor of urban studies and planning, a fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions, and director of the energy certificate. “We’re responding to the needs of the marketplace with a unique, interdisciplinary program. Graduates of the certificate program will be policy literate and skill rich, prepared for success in an energy-related career.”   

“Today’s energy choices contain both great promise and great, even existential risk. Negotiating the latter and realizing on the former will require educated citizens and highly trained technical and policy leaders,” said Angus Duncan, president of Bonneville Environmental Foundation and chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission. “Oregon relies upon PSU for much of that education and training. The strengthening and refocusing of curriculum by the University is timely and essential to our state’s capacity for making the right energy choices going forward.” 

A total of five courses are required to complete the certificate program, which is currently accepting new students. For more information about the program and to apply visit www.pdx.edu/energy-certificate.