Five URI students are first to earn new energy certificate

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KINGSTON, R.I. – June 7, 2017 – Five students who graduated last month from the University of Rhode Island’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences were the first to receive a Certificate in Energy Economics and Policy.

Launched earlier this year, the University’s newest certificate program provides students with the skills to compete in the rapidly growing green energy sector by providing intensive training in energy economics, management and policy.

URI seniors receiving the certificate – all majoring in environmental and natural resource economics – were Jonathan Ducharme from Warwick, Kelly Fournier from Cranston, John Patrick Govan from Mendham, N.J. and Brianna Seltzer from Charlestown. Also receiving the certificate was graduate student Devina Thakur, a Lincoln resident studying environmental policy and management.

Govan enrolled in the program to gain a competitive edge in the job market.

“My goal is to work in renewable energy,” he said. “With the energy certificate, I can prove to an employer that I know what I’m talking about.”

While pursuing the energy certificate, Govan said he gained exposure to a wide range of modern energy issues, from demand for green energy to the energy challenges facing developing countries, further increasing his employment prospects. He dreams of launching his own solar or wind energy company one day, but says he is starting small by seeking a career with an existing renewable energy facility.

According to Simona Trandafir, URI assistant professor of natural resource economics and director of the energy certificate program, renewable energy jobs are among the fastest growing employment opportunities in the nation. The certificate program addresses the demand for qualified energy managers by providing hands-on education and skill-based instruction.

“The advantage of URI’s energy certificate over most other energy programs is that it teaches practical skills for managing energy, in addition to academic training,” she said.

The program fosters experiential learning and civic engagement through an internship and courses in subjects such as sustainable energy economics and policy. Students learn how to assess on-site energy efficiency; conduct energy benchmarking, an industry-standard process for comparing energy performance across buildings; and focus on real world energy projects through service learning.

The energy certificate program was developed through a partnership between URI’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and the URI Extension Outreach Center to address the critical energy challenges of the 21st-century. The program is open to full and part-time undergraduates and can be pursued as a stand-alone degree, or combined with most academic majors to create an interdisciplinary learning experience.