(510g) Development of a Multi-University Graduate Certificate Program in Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies

Schlup, J. R. - Presenter, Kansas State University
Bellmer, D., Oklahoma State University
Rezac, M. E., Kansas State University
Carrier, D. J., University of Arkansas

Widespread interest in green and
sustainable industries has resulted from a general recognition of the need for
systems that meet societal needs without long-term degradation of the
environment. With the growing interest in bioenergy and sustainable
technologies, there is a need for individuals with the knowledge and skills
necessary to develop and sustain biobased enterprises. 

In 2006, industrial practitioners
with a focus on biobased materials and biofuels processing were surveyed
regarding the experiential and educational needs of their current and future
employees. The overwhelming message from the survey was that the employee pool
lacked knowledge and experience with biobased processes.  The survey findings demonstrated that there
exists an urgent need for specialized training that is interdisciplinary in its
approach and which is accessible for on-campus students as well as industry
personnel who would like to pursue distance education while working full-time.

Since that time, four
Universities have collaborated to develop a new graduate certificate program
that prepares participants for careers in the emerging biofuels and biobased products
industries by enhancing their knowledge in renewable resource development.  In order to optimize resources and to utilize
expertise at the partner institutions, the program is being delivered via
distance education through each of the partner institutions, making it
accessible anywhere in the world. The multidisciplinary graduate program
involves several different areas of study that directly support biobased
product and bioenergy development, including chemical engineering, biological
and agricultural engineering, plant sciences, agronomy, and agricultural economics.

This presentation will describe
the development of the academic program along with the rationale behind
selection of a graduate certificate format. 
The curriculum and its implementation in a distance learning environment
will be defined.  The Agricultural Interactive
Distance Education Alliance (AG*IDEA), which is an academic board within the
Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA),
provides an administrative structure for the program.  The relationships between the member institutions
and with AG*IDEA will be explained.