CREATE’s collection of Renewable Energy Education publications were written by CREATE personnel to document their research and findings. Many of these publications were written with international collaboration from experts in the Renewable Energy Education field. This content is available to the public.

Walz, K., Sustainable Universities & Colleges Sustainability Advances in Institutions of Higher Education New Horizons in Sustainability and Business series, CH 13, Mark Starik and Paul Shrivastava, 2024.


Over the past two decades, renewable energy has experienced massive growth,
while aging and obsolete fossil fuel fired electrical power plants have been
retired. This trend is exemplified by the increase in global installed solar photovoltaic
(PV) capacity, which has surged from 1.4 GW in 2000 to over 1,185
GW in 2022 (Solar Power Europe, 2022). In just a few years, solar power will
eclipse electricity obtained from coal and natural gas. And by 2027, worldwide
solar PV capacity is expected to exceed 3,500 GW as the world’s largest source
of electrical generation (IEA, 2023). This trend is mirrored in the workforce,
and solar PV installation has been one of the fastest growing occupations in
recent years (DOL, 2023). This growth is driven by dramatic reductions in the
cost of solar technology (Nemet, 2019), and solar PV installations today cost
less than 10% of what they cost 20 years ago (Ramasamy et al., 2022).

The transformation of the solar industry has created an exciting new opportunity
for schools to pursue solar developments for their facilities. At a time
when many students have been involved in environmental activism and climate
strikes, installing solar is a way for schools to demonstrate a commitment to
the students that they serve and fulfill a moral obligation to future generations.
Solar PV systems also help to lower ongoing operational costs for schools by
reducing utility bills. Moreover, solar facilitates cost hedging by providing
budgeting certainty for future electric costs. It is not uncommon for schools
to have significant restrictions on their annual operating budgets. Thus, there
is an opportunity to use capital expenditures for solar PV systems to reduce
energy-related operational costs and address budget gaps. Today, for many
parts of the US, solar photovoltaic systems can provide energy at a levelized cost of electricity that is well below the retail rate charged by electric utilities. As a result, schools pursuing solar PV systems can achieve both financial and environmental sustainability.

Read more here.

Walz, K., & Cooper, K., & Reid, B., & Baechle, C., & Akelian, C., & Alfano, K. (2022, August), Supervisory Controls and Data Acquisition Instructional Materials and Resources for Energy Education Programs Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.


The CREATE Supervisory Controls and Data Acquisition (SCADA) project is an industry driven initiative brought about by three colleges, working with an industry utility partner. The project began in July 2019 with the goal of integrating 21st century SCADA technology into existing energy education programs. The project delivered both in-person and online faculty professional development for 28 faculty representing 17 U.S. states. Products produced and distributed through the project network include a SCADA job task analysis, curriculum modules, control board trainers and lab activities, computer-based labs, and a web based open-source SCADA platform. The SCADA open-source platform allows colleges to connect their renewable energy generating systems and provide analytical training to their students using their own data, along with data from other regions and simulation sets. This resource will foster student engagement and ownership of learning through generation, visualization, and analysis of long term and large data sets. This study demonstrates the value of collaboration between multiple academic institutions, and how educational programs can benefit from collaboration with industry partners…. READ MORE

Walz, K., & Arquin, M., & Shoemaker, J., & Liddicoat, S., & Temple, G., & Alfano, K. (2022, August), Delivery and Impact of Virtual Teacher Professional Development Workshops Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.


Over the past few years, education at all levels has been greatly disrupted by the COVID pandemic. For many schools, face-to-face interactions were reduced or restricted to only those activities that have been determined to be essential for student instruction. The pandemic has also had a great impact on teacher professional development programming, which traditionally has been delivered largely in face-to-face settings. This paper examines the implementation of a series of energy technology teacher professional development workshops that were delivered virtually using online meeting apps. The results of the workshops are presented including participant measures of learning gains, and feedback describing how faculty participants used the information gained to modify their curriculum and instruction. The discussion includes observations and recommended practices to promote the effective incorporation of tools and equipment for remotely delivered workshops… READ MORE

Walz, K., & McMahan, A., & Temple, G., & Alfano, K. (2022, August), Results of 2021 Energy Education Stakeholder Survey Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.


This paper presents the results of a recent energy education stakeholder survey that was conducted to examine energy industry trends and educational programming needs for the next decade. The survey was sent to over 700 faculty ranging from middle school to university level along with 150 industry representatives. The survey generated a response rate just over 10% for both the educator and industry groups. The top three technologies identified as areas for growth in the next decade were solar photovoltaics, energy storage, and electric vehicles. The biggest obstacle faced by faculty were a lack of tools, materials, and supplies necessary to provide hands-on learning with energy technology. Educators expressed a strong preference for face-to-face instruction that included access to tools and equipment, and also indicated a need for electronic open educational resources that were compliant with website accessibility requirements. The results of the survey are presented along with analysis, conclusions, and
recommendations for engineering educational programs that address energy technology… READ MORE

M. Slowinski, G. Temple, K.A. Walz. International Faculty Professional Development: Utilizing Online and Hybrid Environments to Deepen Learning and Grow Community. Journal of Higher Education Theory & Practice. Volume 20 (13) 2020

Providing robust professional development opportunities for educators can present unique challenges,
especially when activities occur abroad. In 2019, the NSF-ATE CREATE Energy Education Center took a
group of renewable energy educators to Germany to study innovations in renewable energy and energy
storage and to learn how these emerging technologies are incorporated into educational programming and workforce preparation. Learning activities conducted before, during and after travel ensured participant preparedness, academic rigor, constructive reflection and collaborative knowledge-building. This paper presents an analysis of accumulated participant data and presents recommendations for enhancing faculty learning when conducting international educator professional development programs… READ MORE

K.A. Walz, J.B. Shoemaker, S.M. Ansorge, A. Gusse and N.J. Hylla.  Enlightened Education: Solar Engineering Design to Energize School Facilities. ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, paper #30133 (2020)


This paper explores the potential for universities, colleges, and K-12 schools to implement solar electric infrastructure projects on their campuses that not only provide financial savings, but also provide learning environments and instructional opportunities for students. A recent case study at Madison College is presented for a 1.85 MW photovoltaic system that is the largest solar rooftop installation in the State of Wisconsin… READ MORE

L. Bosman, J. Brinker, and K.A. Walz. A comparison of the renewable energy and energy storage sectors in Germany and the United States, and recommendations for engineering teaching practices. ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, paper #29546 (2020)


The German Energiewende is the planned transition by Germany to a low carbon,
environmentally sound, reliable, and affordable energy supply. This paper reports on a U.S. faculty international study program, which took place in May 2019, to explore the intersection of the German renewable energy and energy storage sectors. The international program included eleven instructional faculty from throughout the United States… READ MORE

M. Slowinski, G. Temple and K.A. Walz. International Faculty Professional Development: Utilizing Online and Hybrid Environments to Deepen Learning and Grow Community. ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Paper #30904 (2020)


In 2018, the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE) received funding from the National Science Foundation to administer an Energy Storage Project with the overarching goal of advancing the renewable energy sector by facilitating integration of energy storage technology into existing two-year college programs. The goals for this project included gathering expertise, conducting job task and curriculum gap analyses, producing instructional materials, implementing pilot energy storage courses, and providing professional development for college instructors… READ MORE

S. Ansorge, T. Helbig, W. Marquardt, M. Thomas, and K.Walz.  Madison College Solar Photovoltaic Roadmap – Executive Summary. Madison Area Technical College. Madison, WI. 2018.

The Madison College Solar Roadmap was created through the College’s participation in the Solar University Network funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. Over the course of several months in spring 2018, a team from Madison College participated in a course organized by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to develop a campus solar roadmap. The course included teams from 14 colleges and universities across the country that worked together to explore and share best practices in solar planning and development… READ MORE

S. Ansorge and K. Walz  Ten Step Guide to Creating a Solar Photovoltaic Roadmap.  Madison Area Technical College. Madison, WI.  2018.

In 2018, a team from Madison College participated in a course organized by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to develop a solar roadmap for the institution. The project was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. The solar roadmap established institutional priorities, and evaluated all of the school’s campus locations and buildings to prioritize future investments in solar photovoltaic installations. The Madison College Solar Roadmap is a 60 page document that has been incorporated in the Madison College Facilities Master Plan, to guide solar projects to be completed by the college over the next decade. This 10 step guide was created to… READ MORE

K.A. Walz, J.B. Shoemaker, A. Scholes, H. Jiang, J.L. Sanfilippo, J. M. Silva, W.A. Zeltner, and M.A. Anderson. Experimental Field Trial of Self-Cleaning Solar Photovoltaic Panels. Energy Conversion and Conservation Division.  ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Salt Lake City, UT. Paper # 22061 (2018)


Solar energy has been growing at an exponential rate over the past decade, and worldwide installed solar electric capacity is expected to more than double again by 2020. Madison College and the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE) have been on the forefront of this trend, developing and teaching solar energy education courses for STEM students. Solar panel performance is unfortunately limited in the field when panels become soiled over time, reducing their electric output… READ MORE

K.A. Walz, C. Folk, S. Liddicoat, and J.B. Shoemaker.  Impacts on Teaching Practices from a Solar Photovoltaic Institute Faculty Professional Development Program.  Energy Conversion and Conservation Division.  ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, Salt Lake City, UT. Paper #23357 (2018)


The Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE) and Madison College has run a Solar Photovoltaic Institute for STEM Educators for the past three years. The institute provides three days of intensive  professional development for high school and two-year college instructors who seek to incorporate solar photovoltaic technology into their curriculum. Participants work with the tools of the trade to install and commission residential sized solar arrays, including sloped roof, flat roof, and dual axis tracking systems… READ MORE

K.A. Walz and J.B. Shoemaker.  Preparing the Future Sustainable Energy Workforce and The Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education.  The Journal of Sustainability Education Vol 17, March (2017)


When examining energy consumption in human history, it is evident that society is entering a new era where the costs of energy generation from renewable sources are now competitive with fossil fuel generation. In light of this advance, this report examines recent milestones in the renewable energy sector, and projects what the near future might hold. In the years ahead, growth in the renewable industry will create increased demand for a trained workforce of scientists, engineers, and technicians with knowledge of renewable energy… READ MORE

K.A. Walz and J.R. Christian. Capstone Engineering Design Projects for Community Colleges.  American Journal of Engineering Education. 8(1):1-12 (2017)


Capstone engineering design courses have been a feature at research universities and four-year schools for many years.  Although such classes are less common at two-year colleges, the experience is equally beneficial for this population of students.  With this in mind, Madison College introduced a project-based Engineering Design course in 2007.  This paper explores Madison College’s experience over the past decade offering this class.  Unique challenges and opportunities for engineering design courses at two-year colleges are discussed.  Our findings include several recommended practices to benefit colleges and universities at any level that are creating new engineering design courses… READ MORE

K.A. Walz, M. Slowinski, and K. Alfano.  International Approaches to Renewable Energy Education – A Faculty Professional Development Case Study and Recommended Practices for STEM Educators.  American Journal of Engineering Education. 7(2): 97-115 (2016)


Calls for increased international competency in U.S. college graduates and the global nature of the renewable energy industry require an exploration of how to incorporate a global perspective in STEM curricula, and how to best develop faculty providing them with global knowledge and skills necessary to update and improve existing teaching practices. To expand awareness of the global renewable energy sector, a cohort of renewable energy educators from across the United States participated in two international learning exchanges to Australia/New Zealand and Germany/Denmark… READ MORE

M. Slowinski, K.A. Walz, and K. Alfano.  Renewable Energy Technician Education: The Impact of International Faculty Collaboration. Best Paper Award, Energy Conversion and Conservation Division.  ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, New Orleans, LA. (2016)


Preparing technicians for the renewable energy sector is a multifaceted challenge for educators,
especially those charged with workforce preparation at the nation’s two-year colleges. Rapid
technological advances, shifting economic policies, environmental research results, and even
ideological debates actively shape and influence the demands and expectations for this sector’s
workforce, all of which impacts the development and implementation of technician training
programs. The need for industry involvement and workplace-based learning also presents
challenges for educators of any discipline. The question becomes not only what do we teach
students to do, but also how do we effectively do so? In addition, calls for increased
international competency in U.S. college graduates and the global nature of the renewable energy
industry requires an exploration of how to incorporate a global perspective in STEM curricula,
and how best to develop faculty to make these changes to existing teaching practices… READ MORE

D.L. Gillian-Daniel, K.A.Walz. Teaching-As-Research Internships: A Model for the Development of Future Chemistry Faculty and the Improvement of Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Community College Journal of Research and Practice. 40 (2), 133-145 (2015)

Over the past decade, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) and Madison Area Technical College (Madison College) partnered to create an internship pathway for graduate students pursuing careers as future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) faculty members. Since 2003, 10 doctoral students from the university completed teaching internship appointments with the technical college chemistry department. Interns benefited from a variety of teaching and educational experiences that helped lay the foundations for their future teaching careers. Following completion of their internships, many students secured employment in higher education… READ MORE

K. Walz, S. Britton, J. Crain, A. Hoffman, P. Morschauser. Biodiesel Synthesis, Viscosity, and Quality Control for an Introductory Chemistry Lab. The Chemical Educator. 19, 342-346 (2014)

Combustion of fuels is usually taught in general chemistry, and most textbooks describe the fractionating of petroleum to produce fuels. The biofuel industry has grown  substantially in recent years, triggering a corresponding interest by chemistry teachers and students. Although classroom production of ethanol is time consuming and often discouraged due to safety and legal/regulatory concerns, biodiesel synthesis is relatively simple, poses fewer risks, and provides a platform for discussion of biofuels…READ MORE

A.R. Hoffman, S.L. Britton, K.D. Cadwell, K.A. Walz. An integrated approach to introducing biofuels, flash point, and vapor pressure concepts into an introductory college chemistry lab. Journal of Chemical Education.  88 (2), 197-200 (2010)

Biodiesel has been touted in recent years as a renewable alternative to petroleum-based fuel because of its economic, energy, and environmental benefits. The environmental advantages of biodiesel compared to conventional petrodiesel include reduced emissions of CO2, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide(1). Biodiesel’s chemical properties also offer safety benefits over conventional petroleum diesel as it is a safer fuel to handle and store because its flash point (lowest temperature at which the application of the ignition source causes the vapors above a liquid to ignite) is nearly double that of petrodiesel (2) and higher than many other fuels… READ MORE 

K.W. Lux, M.J. D’Amato, B. Anderegg, K.A. Walz, H.W. Kerby. Introducing new learning tools into a standard classroom: A multi-tool approach to integrating fuel-cell concepts into introductory college chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education. 84 (2), 248 (2007)

Introducing cutting-edge research and new technologies to introductory courses can be challenging for both teachers and students. One topic of increasing interest and importance is fuel-cell technology. Much current research is focused on developing the “hydrogen economy” particularly for the automotive industry, though there are still significant research problems to be solved (1). Fuel cells can operate on a variety of fuels but operate particularly well when using hydrogen as a fuel. Because their efficiency when utilizing hydrogen can be up to double that of an internal-combustion engine, they are expected to play a central role in enabling the hydrogen economy…. READ MORE

S.C. Kerr, K.A. Walz. “Holes” in Student Understanding: Addressing Prevalent Misconceptions Regarding Atmospheric Environmental Chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education.  84 (10), 1693-1696.

The inclusion of environmental chemistry topics, including global climate change and ozone depletion, within the general chemistry curriculum provides an opportunity for students to apply chemistry principles to familiar issues and to gain an understanding of socially-important environmental problems, but the task is not without challenges (1). The complexity and intangible nature of atmospheric environmental phenomena lead to misconceptions among students… READ MORE 

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