Selections of Other Energy Courses in Engineering

Below we list specific courses that the Energy Institute is involved in and are focused on energy topics at Cornell. We urge you to consult the course catalog and the home departments of the courses as well as the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future for more information. 

AEP 5500 Physics of Renewable Energy - The aim of this graduate class is to build on your knowledge of undergraduate solid state physics and apply it to a microscopic understanding of devices and materials that you will likely encounter in research or advanced industrial settings, with a goal of understanding their ultimate limits, current efficiencies and opportunities for improvement.  We will mainly focus of renewable energy applications, but will also cover some traditional semiconductor device geometries and those that can be applied to strongly correlated electron systems.

BEE 4010 Renewable Energy SystemsIntroduces energy systems with emphasis on quantifying costs and designing/optimizing renewable energy systems to convert environmental inputs into useful forms of energy. Covers solar energy, small-scale hydropower, wind, bio-conversion processes, house energy balances, and psychrometric principles as applied to biomass drying. Focuses on the technologies and small-scale system design, not policy issues. Use of spreadsheets is extensive. Personal laptop computers are highly recommended for each class.  Class time is often focused on solving weekly homework problems.  Required term project that student selects a client and develops a project proposal on a self-selected renewable energy project. 

Outcome 1: An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs.
Outcome 2: An ability to create sustainable solutions in the context of a complex natural environment.


BEE 4870 Sustainable Bioenergy Systems

Offers a systems approach to understanding renewable bioenergy systems (biomass) and their conversion processes, from various aspects of biology, engineering, environmental impacts, economics, and sustainable development. A large part of the course deepens students’ understanding of bioprocessing with undefined mixed cultures of microbes.

Outcome 1: An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs.
Outcome 2: An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams.


BEE 4880/6880 Applied Modeling and Simulation for Renewable Energy Systems - This course will provide an applied introduction to modeling, simulation and optimization techniques for various renewable energy systems. The course will be modular in nature. Each module will focus on a particular renewable energy application and relevant modeling/simulation tools. Some modules are independent and some will build on previous modules. The instructional format of the course will include lectures, scientific paper reviews, and some Matlab programming. Students will have an opportunity to apply new techniques to a relevant modeling project. The course will culminate with a modeling project relevant to renewable energy. Undergraduates will work in teams of 2-3 students to complete the term project.


Outcome 1: An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.

Outcome 2: An ability to communicate effectively.

Outcome 3: A knowledge of contemporary issues.


CEE 4650/6650 Transportation, Energy & Environmental Systems for Sustainable Development -  Focuses on the nexus of transportation and environment, energy, and climate-change concerns. It is interdisciplinary, drawing upon transportation, environment, urban planning, statistics, economics, and policy. The course covers both the theoretical and practical aspects of relevant topics including mobile emissions inventory estimation, renewable fuels, air quality impact and life cycle benefit assessment of alternative fuels/vehicles, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and urban sprawl, and congestion mitigation and air quality (CMAQ). Students apply course materials to real-world cases and projects.  


CHEME 6642 Energy Policy-  Analyzes the energy policies of public institutions for a range of energy resources. Reviews economic and political determinants of policy. Examines policies that affect/control: pricing mechanisms, energy mix, subsidies, energy conservation/efficiency and the environment. Analyzes their economic and social impacts. Examples drawn from a wide range of settings.


Outcome 1: To provide a holistic view of the energy policies of governments and other public institutions.

Outcome 2: To understand, analyze and critique their underlying causes and objectives.

Outcome 3: To gain a better understanding of their social and economic impacts.


ECE 4510 Electrical Power Systems I- Acquaints students with modern electric power system modeling, analysis and computation. Stresses analysis techniques appropriate for power system modeling, analysis and power flow computation. Topics include transmission line models, transformers and per unit system, generator models, network matrices, power flow analysis and computation, real and reactive power control, voltage control, economic dispatch.


Outcome 1: Knowledge of a variety of mathematical models for power system components.

Outcome 2: Ability to classify such models as to issues of static model and dynamic model.

Outcome 3: Ability to make optimal inferences with respect to such criteria as minimum production cost and minimum emission (power flow and economic dispatch). Elements of optimal design are introduced.

Outcome 4: Response of power flow, bus voltage to power demand variations as well as power injection variations.

Outcome 5: Response of power system static behaviors to power system contingencies (such as line outages, transformer outages, generator tripping and huge load variations).


ECE 4840 Introduction to Controlled Fusion: Principles and Technology - Introduction to the physical principles and various engineering aspects underlying power generation by controlled fusion. Topics include fuels and conditions required for fusion power and basic fusion-reactor concepts; fundamental aspects of plasma physics relevant to fusion plasmas and basic engineering problems for a fusion reactor; and an engineering analysis of proposed magnetic and/or inertial confinement fusion-reactor designs.

Outcome 1: Understand the scientific basis for controlled fusion by both magnetic confinement and inertial confinement approaches, as well as the technological requirements for practical electric power generation by the controlled fusion process.
Outcome 2: Be able determine the energy release of any nuclear reaction or reaction chain using the mass-energy relationship, and be able to solve well-posed engineering problems in plasma physics as applied to controlled fusion using Maxwell's equations and the equations of motion of charged particles in electric and magnetic fields.
Outcome 3: Be able to solve well-posed engineering problems in energy generation by controlled fusion having to do with the properties of materials in the presence of neutron irradiation and other relevant processes.
Outcome 4: Understand the fundamental role played by energy in our society and in the developing world, the potential role fusion can play, and the reasons that it is potentially more attractive than fission-based electric power generation
Outcome 5: Be able to determine the state-of-the-art of different aspects of fusion reactor design by independent study using books, journals, conference proceedings, reports on the web and personal communication with experts.


ECE 5870/5880 Energy Seminar I - Energy resources, their conversion to electricity or mechanical work, and the environmental consequences of the energy cycle are discussed by faculty members from several departments in the university and by outside experts. Topics include energy resources and economics; coal-based electricity generation; nuclear reactors; solar power; energy conservation by users; and air pollution control.


MAE 4020 Wind Power - Main features of energy conversion by wind turbines. Emphasis on characterization of the atmospheric boundary layer, aerodynamics of horizontal axis wind turbines, and performance prediction. Structural effects, power train considerations, siting, and wind farm planning. 

Outcome 1: Students will understand the need for carbon-free energy production and the functions of wind turbines.
Outcome 2: Analyze the aerodynamics of wind turbine blades.
Outcome 3: Predict efficiency of energy extraction.
Outcome 4: Understand how wind fields are characterized.
Outcome 5: Be able to estimate blade loading and mechanical response.
Outcome 6: Understand the basics of electrical generators and mechanical to electrical energy conversion.
Outcome 7: Understand the factors in choice of sites for turbines and wind farms.


MAE 5010 Future Energy Systems- Critically examines the technology of energy systems that will be acceptable in a world faced with global climate change, local pollution, and declining supplies of oil. The focus is on renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biomass), but other non-carbon-emitting sources (nuclear) and lowered-carbon sources (co-generative gas turbine plants, fuel cells) also are studied. Both the devices and the overall systems are analyzed. 

Outcome 1: Students will be proficient in engineering calculations of the performance and rudimentary design of various energy conversion systems.
Outcome 2: Familiar with the physics of the environmental issues, including the greenhouse effect and global climate change.
Outcome 3: Adept in the comparative analysis of various energy conversion systems. The comparisons will include cost, social acceptability as well as environmental consequences.


View Cornell's course catalog

Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Education Page