A Project-Based Interdisciplinary Program in Sustainable Energy

Tim Healy1,  Greg Smestad2,  Jasmin Gonzalez1
1Santa Clara University, 2Sol Ideas Technology Development


The purpose of the abstract presented is to summarize the Latimer Energy Scholars Program at Santa Clara University. This program offers students with various engineering and science backgrounds an opportunity to tackle interdisciplinary engineering projects in the sustainability field. During the projects the students are faced with open-ended real life engineering decisions, and they utilize their educational background and problem solving skills to achieve their tasks. Available resources to accomplish these tasks include cutting-edge tools in the lab as well as support and coaching from fellow students, professors and experts in the field.

The Latimer Energy Scholars program utilizes a hybrid educational model. Through this approach we provide students with a wide variety of resources (on-line and off-line) and enough educational freedom to decide their own path of interest. Students learn the fundamentals of sustainable energy through their current engineering curriculum, on-line tutorials and webcasts, selected books and magazines in the area, and face to face interaction with professors and industry experts in the field.

This developing program has already shown signs of success. Currently, there are ten students involved in the program, with a number of challenging projects in the solar/sustainability area. We expect to continue to enhance the program to support many more students in their interdisciplinary engineering growth.