Geared toward practicing engineers, the new online Master of Engineering in Sustainable Systems Engineering program prepares students to understand and inspire change within their organization relating to complex systems and their effect on the quality of water, land, air, energy, economics and society. “This degree program will provide engineers with the skills to lead change within their organizations and communities,” says Engineering Professional Development Associate Faculty Associate Marty Gustafson. “The program not only focuses on skills related to leadership of sustainability initiatives, but it recognizes the need for technical specialization in particular fields.”
Students in the program, which begins in January 2013, will focus on the technical aspects of three specializations: energy production and distribution, facilities and built environment, and infrastructure. They will take 24 credits of required and elective courses that cover such topics as industrial ecology sustainability tools; sustainable improvements of complex systems; sustainable sciences, natural resources and conservation; renewable energies; environmental systems modeling and optimization; and change management and environmental decision-making, among others. They also will complete a three-credit sustainability capstone project.
Sustainable systems experts are in high demand in engineering fields. The new master’s program creates opportunities for students to engage in activity-based learning that enables them to explore how sustainability will apply to their professional lives and their interests, says Engineering Professional Development Professor Patrick Eagan. “For engineers, it’s a topic that needs to be explored and a competency that should add value to their career,” he says. “Companies and other institutions seek engineers competent in sustainability practices.”
The new master’s program builds on the strengths of existing UW–Madison online graduate engineering programs, which U.S. News & World Report ranked No. 1 in 2012. The department worked with several units throughout the university, including the Office of Sustainability and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, to design the comprehensive program. “These partnerships are essential to adding value to the program participants and their organizations,” says Eagan.