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Are You Ready?

RESS Program Readiness Assessment

The RESS program is designed to prepare students to lead the transformation of the world economy to a more renewable, sustainable basis by developing successful projects in renewable energy and sustainability systems. This section of our website will help you to examine your background and decide what (if anything) you need to “brush up” on in order to succeed.

There are many topics and skills that you will master as a RESS student. In general, you need good communication and calculation skills and either formal training or experience in the energy and sustainability sector. This could come in the form of an engineering degree, work experience in the energy sector, or long-standing involvement in renewable energy as a personal interest and area of study. Since the courses are delivered online, you definitely need to be comfortable with using a computer, including the use of a web browser, word processor, and spreadsheet.

The specific skills needed to succeed as a RESS student do vary a bit, depending on the track you decide to pursue.

Renewable Energy Track / Solar Energy Certificate

The MPS-RESS Renewable Energy track is a technical program for project design and development and requires strong math and science skills in order to integrate interdisciplinary information in the process. A number of disciplines converge in the renewable energy project development, including:

  • energy science and resource
  • geographic information science
  • meteorology
  • physics, chemistry, and materials
  • mechanical and electrical engineering
  • architecture and architectural engineering
  • economics and finance
  • policy and social science

We expect that students would have background in some of those areas, but not all of them. So that's why strong math and science skills are needed to learn across disciplines. 

Good starting credentials for starting the Renewable Energy track in RESS would be:

  • A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in any of the above fields;
  • Professional experience in energy sectors (following an alternate bachelor’s degree); or
  • 3-5 years of prior experience working in the field of renewable energy project development or installation, having learned practical skills in the line of work.

What are the core technical skills that will help me to succeed in my study in the Renewable Energy track of the MPS-RESS program?

  • Applied math background
    In order to incorporate the fundamentals of solar energy into applied project design, students will need strong math skills that include algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.
  • Proficiency with data processing and plotting software (Excel) is highly required; familiarity with computer scripts and basic programming skills is also a plus, as solar projects involve manipulating large data sets.
  • Applied understanding of electricity, including current/voltage relationships, energy and power, understanding of AC and DC power, circuits, and supporting technologies (for courses related to photovoltaics and solar energy conversion). 
  • Applied understanding of heat transfer and storage, including thermal transfer by conduction and convection, heat capacity, and an understanding of specific and latent heat in materials.
  • Fundamentals of chemistry and physics, structure and property of materials, principles of electrochemistry (for topics related to energy conversion and storage)

A candidate student will also have a strong desire to become a leader in the field, contributing to renewable project design, deployment, and policy development. The resulting integrated skills of a master’s level graduate will include resource assessment for specific locales; technical competency; stakeholder analysis; economics, market, and policy knowledge; effective communications - verbal and writing skills. 

All that said, missing some of the above-listed skills should not prevent you from applying for the program, but you need to be prepared to work through those gaps and learn harder, sometimes outside of your comfort zone. Are you ready?   

Sustainability Management and Policy Track / SMP Certificate

The Sustainability Management and Policy (SMP) Option focuses on building analytical skills grounded in case-based investigations into sustainability theory, systems analysis, environmental assessments, technical evaluations, public policy, and energy markets. Students coming into the SMP Option will most likely have education and/or applied experience in one of the related areas, such as project management, supply-chain management, energy engineering, energy policy, environmental regulation, regional planning, or decision-making in complex systems. In courses within the option, students will encounter the need for sharp skills in critical thinking, statistical analysis, technical selection, energy science, systems thinking, political-economic analysis, and policy-making processes.

Individuals are expected to begin study in the Sustainability Management and Policy Option after they have either:

  • A Bachelor of Science (BS) degree related to one of the above fields,
  • 3-5 years of professional experience applying a related field of knowledge (following an alternate bachelor’s degree), or
  • 3-5 years of prior experience working in a field such as energy management, supply chain management, environmental regulation, or a related technical field, while having learned several applied and practical skills in the line of work.

What are the core skills that will help me to assess whether or not I am ready for study in Sustainability Management and Policy within the RESS program?

  • Aptitude for complex systems management
    Energy and sustainability systems require a multidimensional and multidisciplinary approach to management.
  • Familiarity working with statistical models and datasets
    Sustainability systems create extensive numbers of models and amounts of data that need to be interpreted, communicated, comprehended, and acted upon.
  • Ability to comprehend economic arguments and technical policies
    Renewable energy and sustainability systems are shaped significantly by regulation and finance and are guided by long-term development goals, all of which require significant technical planning alongside social policies.
  • A mathematical, technical, and scientific background sufficient to serve your goals
    A strong background in energy, physics, statistics, and/or management theory will all help to improve what you will be able to get out of the SMP Option.

The SMP Track is designed to enhance sustainability management career opportunities as much for students with strong technical backgrounds in energy engineering as for those with proven experience in management. The SMP option is intended to produce students who, as employees or advisors, can work from their strengths to enhance the sustainability portfolios of companies, firms, and governmental enterprises.

Helpful Tools

There are many online tools to help you learn or review these topics:

Kahn Academy videos:

Coursera courses: