Dec 08, 2022  
2022-23 Western Washington University Catalog 
2022-23 Western Washington University Catalog

Energy Studies

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Dr. Joel Swisher, PE, Director

The Institute for Energy Studies (IES) at WWU is a multi-college collaboration that offers interdisciplinary undergraduate degrees to address the science, technology, policy, business and economic aspects of energy systems. The growing WWU energy curriculum includes courses and degrees in Energy Science & Technology (BS), Energy Policy & Management (BA), Electric (energy) Engineering (BS, ABET-certified), and Business & (energy) Sustainability (BA), as well as minors in Energy Policy and Energy Science.

Why study energy? Our graduates will be prepared to join the clean energy profession and pursue technical, policy and business solutions to climate change. Meanwhile, access to modern energy services, including efficient usage, is essential to realize 20th century, let alone 21st century, living standards worldwide. Achieving the sustainable energy transition was identified by the United Nations as a “transformational challenge” for our generation, and the focus of IES is directly on tools to build the clean energy transition.

Addressing this grand challenge requires an interdisciplinary approach that provides both breadth and depth, with a practical toolkit of technical and analytic skills in a context of system-level thinking and understanding. The IES builds on WWU core strengths in collaborative, experiential learning, involving undergraduates in research and community engagement, working closely with practitioners in the local community to study and execute clean energy projects and programs. We take a practical approach, using the campus and community as our laboratory for hands-on learning, while collaborating with cities, utilities and energy firms in the region.

From its inception, the IES has been driven by student interest in working on solutions to energy and climate issues, and our programs are guided by advice from leaders in the region’s energy profession. Our programs are designed to meet the future workforce needs of Washington’s emerging clean energy economy, which emphasizes clean energy technology, energy efficiency, smart systems, environmental mitigation and entrepreneurial solutions.

Understanding the technology and economics of energy use reveals opportunities for new technologies and policies to improve energy efficiency throughout the economy, an environmental imperative but also a key business and employment opportunity. As the electricity industry evolves from a static, centralized structure toward dynamic, distributed models, there will be new challenges to integrate and balance resources as diverse as solar, wind, hydro, bio- and fossil-fuel energy with smart grids, net-zero buildings and electric vehicles. Technologies to make fossil fuels cleaner and substitute biofuels are in development. Our graduates will find opportunities to develop innovative ideas, from advanced technology to new business models, that transform the energy system toward a more sustainable path.

We expect that WWU energy students will acquire the appropriate foundation in math and science underlying energy processes and systems. They will learn applied energy economics and have the opportunity to build management or entrepreneurial skills and analytic tools in key fields such as electric power, energy efficiency, building science and greenhouse gas management, where workforce demand is growing. The IES aims to  prepare graduates to become both founders of new enterprises and disrupters of existing organizations in need of innovation, including energy utilities.


The Institute for Energy Studies integrates rigorous educational programs, applied research and community service to meet the growing demand for interdisciplinary education and training related to the science, technology, policy and business aspects of human production and use of energy.


The Institute for Energy Studies is a regional and national leader in providing practical and innovative education of future energy experts and decision makers.


JOEL SWISHER, PE (2014) Professor and Director, Institute for Energy Studies. BS (civil engineering), Stanford University; MS (mechanical engineering), Stanford University; PhD (civil engineering: energy and environmental planning), Stanford University.
YING BAO (2017) Assistant Professor. BS (bioengineering), Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, MS, PhD (chemistry), University of South Dakota.
CHARLES BARNHART (2014) Assistant Professor. BS (physics and astronomy), University of Washington-Seattle; PhD (planetary geophysics), University of California-Santa Cruz.
ANDREW BUNN (2006) Professor and Founding Director, Institute for Energy Studies. BS (zoology) The Evergreen State College; MEM (resource ecology) Duke University; PhD (environmental science), Montana State University-Bozeman.
MARK BUSSELL (1990) Director and Professor. BA, Reed College; PhD, University of California-Berkeley.
REID DORSEY-PALMATEER (2015) Assistant Professor. BA (economics), Pomona College; MA, PhD (economics), University of Michigan.
CRAIG DUNN (2005) Wilder Distinguished Professor of Business and Sustainability. BA, MBA; California State University; PhD, Indiana University.
JOSHUA FISHER (2010) Assistant Professor. BA, Bucknell University; MA, University of Oregon; PhD, University of Oregon.
DEBORAH GLOSSER (2020) Assistant Professor. BA, Ohio State University; MS, University of Pittsburgh; PhD (civil engineering), Oregon State University; JD, Duquesne University.
NIPUN GOEL (2021) Assistant Professor. MS and PhD (Mechanical Engineering), Lehigh University.
STEVE HOLLENHORST (2012) Professor and Dean, College of the Environment. BS, University of Oregon; MS, University of Oregon; PhD, Ohio State University.
XICHEN JIANG (2016) Assistant Professor. BA, University of Illinois; MS, University of Illinois; PhD, University of Illinois (electrical engineering).
BRAD JOHNSON (1997) Professor and Associate Dean, College of Science and Engineering. BS, University of Colorado, MS, University of Colorado, PhD, University of Colorado.
TIMOTHY KOWALCZYK (2014) Assistant Professor. BS (chemistry and mathematics), University of Southern California; PhD (physical chemistry), Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
TAMMI LANINGA (2015) Associate Professor. BA (environmental policy), Western Washington University; MA, PhD (design & planning), University of Colorado.
ERIKA McPHEE-SHAW (2017) Professor. BA (physics) Dartmouth College; PhD (oceanography) University of Washington.
TODD MORTON (1988) Professor. BSEE, MSEE, University of Washington.
GREGORY O’NEIL (2008) Associate Professor. BS, Boston College; PhD (chemistry), University of Colorado.
DAVID PATRICK (1996) Professor. BS, University of California-Davis; PhD, University of Utah.
JENNIFER SELTZ (2012) Assistant Professor. BA, Brown University; MA, PhD, University of Washington.
IMRAN SHEIKH (2017) Assistant Professor. BS (biomedical engineering), University of Wisconsin; MS, PhD (energy and resources), University of California-Berkeley
ART SHERWOOD (2014), Associate Professor and Director, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Programs. BA, University of Wisconsin; MBA, Indiana University; MS, Indiana University; PhD, Indiana University.
SHARON SHEWMAKE (2013) Assistant Professor. BA, Duke University; PhD, University of California-Davis.
FROYLAN SIFUENTES (2019) Assistant Professor. BS (chemical engineering), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MS, PhD (energy and resources), University of California-Berkeley.
XI WANG (2021), Assistant Professor. BA (English Literature), Cornell University; MS (Environmental Studies), University of Colorado; PhD (Geography), University of Colorado.

Other Departmental Information

Advising and Declaration Process:

Students must have confirmed admission to Western Washington University and met the grade and course requirements listed below. Students who wish to register for an Energy Studies major or minor should contact the Institute for Energy Studies office (Arntzen Hall 303). Students interested in the electrical engineering major with the energy concentration should contact the Engineering program coordinator/pre-major advisor. Students interested in the business and sustainability major with the energy concentration should contact the College of Business and Economics faculty advisor.  

Grade Requirements:

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors. A GPA of 3.00 or above is required in courses for energy programs.

Programs of Studies in Other Departments

Energy Studies students who have interest in Engineering and Design, see the Electrical and Computer Engineering, BS  which includes an Energy Concentration.


    Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of ScienceMinorWWU Certificate (Non-Degree)


      Energy Studies

      Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400 are described in the University Academic Policies  section of this catalog.

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