The mission of the George Mason University Renewable Energy minor is to provide a sound scientific education in renewable energy that will prepare students for graduate studies and research, employment opportunities and a socially and environmentally responsible lifestyle.
This college-wide interdisciplinary minor administered by the Physics and Astronomy Department is designed for students seeking education for careers in the field of renewable energy or as preparation for graduate work in a wide range of academic disciplines Renewable energy, as normally understood, includes a variety of methods of energy generation, including solar, wind, hydropower, tidal power, geothermal, as well as energy storage methods, and energy conservation. According to some projections, employment opportunities in the renewable energy field could increase dramatically.
Jobs relating to renewable energy might be expected to lie in a wide range of areas including engineering, business, marketing, finance, installation, software, legal affairs, and research. Thus, students can prepare for such work with a major in a field such as engineering, business, basic science, and a minor in renewable energy.
The minor in renewable energy requires all students to complete an internship relating to energy, often during the summer before their senior year. Such internships can be a great entrée into well-paying career opportunities. Fortunately, the Greater DC Metropolitan area contains a large number of companies, universities, and professional associations that offer student internships that would be appropriate for students who have completed at least 2-3 years of the minor in renewable energy. In addition to these local internships, you should also not overlook the many internships available across the nation, mainly at universities, federally funded labs, and energy research centers. These opportunities are generally competitive, and they are often funded by the National Science Foundation or the Department of energy. Most of these national opportunities tend to be in scientific and engineering fields. They usually include a travel and housing allowance as well as a weekly stipend. Among the local opportunities, some are paid, and some are unpaid. Which ones might be most appropriate for you would depend on what you have majored in. Obviously, opportunities of a technical nature would be most appropriate for science or engineering majors, while others would be more appropriate for students who have majored in business or in public policy. Here is a list of some DC-area internships. Not every one of these area organizations is seeking someone immediately, but they all do work in the areas of renewable energy & energy conservation, and they have expressed a desire to take on Mason students as interns at some point. This web site has internship opportunities all over the country relating to renewable energy, which you may sort geographically. View our intership FAQs for more information.
At the time of completion of the minor, students will be able to
- Understand the basic principles of various renewable energy resources.
- Understand the economic and environmental trade-offs each form involves.
- Demonstrate a well-grounded understanding of the role renewable energy can play in solving societal problems.
- Apply fundamental renewable energy concepts in a design project or on the job; and work collaboratively in interdisciplinary groups.
The minor in renewable energy requires 9 credits beyond the basic physics, calculus, and chemistry courses required for many science and engineering majors. The curriculum requirements for each concentration include these required courses listed below:
- CHEM 251 General Chemistry for Engineers (4) or both CHEM 211 & 212 General Chemistry I.II (8)
- MATH 213 Calculus III (4)
- PHYS 245, 262 or 266 or PI
- PHYS 331 Fundamentals of Renewable Energy (3)
- PHYS 385/ CDS 385 Materials Science with renewable Energy Applications (3)
- PHYS 409 Physics Internship (3)
The primary core course page, PHYS 331, is a good source of information on the minor. The three core courses for the renewable energy minor include PHYS 331, PHYS 385, and MATH 113.
Professor Robert Ehrlich
Physics and Astronomy
301A Planetary Hall MSN 3F3