Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

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rl's picture
rl
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Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

Hello Everyone,

I'm hoping some of you might have some good career advice for me.  

I have two bachelor degrees.  One in business, and another in applied computer science. Since 1995, I've worked in IT.  Mostly Oracle databases.  Lots of contracts, and layoffs.  Work becoming commoditied and going overseas.  You get typecast in your skill set, and companies won't let you learn new skills to keep up.  And if you learn them at home, they don't think you know them, because you didn't do them on the job!

I keep trying to do more with my career.  The other year, I passed Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 exam.  But In retrospect, there are not many jobs advertised for techs with CFA.  And at the next company I worked at, I did the same stuff that I've done for years.

I really like renewable energy.  At night, I read about renewables a lot.  Last year I went to the big conferences for wind, solar, electric cars, energy management, advanced technology, and one Oracle conference.

After reading the Crash Course, and seeing a number of other documentaries (like Collapse) I can't help thinking that in the future, energy is going to become much more important to companies than IT.  

I’m now debating returning to university to study for a Green MBA, or masters with a concentration in renewable energy, or sustainability.

Questions:

1)
A lot of the renewable energy jobs like electrical or mechanical engineering backgrounds.  Given that I don't have this, is it realistic to pursue a masters?  

2)
Does anyone know what kinds of jobs have the graduates of Green MBA , or Masters of sustainability, gone on to do?

3)
Given my background, can anyone think of another route into renewables?   

4)
In the big picture, is getting a Master's degree worthwhile at all now?

Thanks a lot!

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

Hmmmm  maybe you should do the Crash Course again.

I landed a job selling/consulting in RE last May.  Admittedly, I live in Australia, and things are a bit different, RE is better subsidised here than in the US, and when it comes to new technology take up, Aussies seem to be right up there....  It's VERY competitive.  I'm not making much money out of it, but then again, we run on the smell of an oily rag here.

I only see this job lasting until the economy tanks.  Period.  Post collapse, exactly what do you think will be "safe"?

Since retraining in RE 15 years ago, I further retrained in Permaculture....  and THAT is where the future lies IMHO, self sufficiency.

I'm very pessimistic about the future when based on what we currently take for granted....  I can never understand people who do the CC and then look for solutions to keeping their lifestyles going, somehow, when it's damned obvious the next 20 years will be nothing like the past 20....

I see no future investments in anything worthwhile (not even gold!), except for personal survival and self sufficiency....  IMHO, ypu MUST do this FIRST!    by all means go and buy some solar power (we're having an extra 2.2kW put on our roof this week to upgrade our system to 3.5kW, AND we have just replaced our dud 100Ah battery bank with a super duper second hand 500Ah one), but rely on it for future income...?  I think you're dreaming.  Just my 2 cents worth.

Mike

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drbubb
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

RL,

You say: "I have two bachelor degrees.  One in business..."

I think maybe you should use the skills learned in you business course to work out if getting an MBA is going to be a positive return on investment.

If you will share your assumptions here, you may get some useful feedback...

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Jim H
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

Hello RL.  Wow.. DamntheMatrix was pretty  negative in a way... I don't interpret your desire as necessarily wanting to keep a "lifestyle" going, as much as finding a way to apply yourself in a more satifsying, meaningful way.  I will readily admit that I DO believe that we can solve our energy problems with concerted effort, focus, investment, and yes, TECHNOLOGY.... 

I don't think Technolgy is a dirty word... especially if it results in a way to more efficienty convert solar generated electricity into storable Hydrogen, or more efficient ways to make ethanol for fuels (like cellulosic).  Did you know most cars in existence today could be converted to run on ethanol, at low cost?  This strips away the argument that is often applied here at CM that there is no way we can react fast enough (energy wise) to avert disaster.  Brazil did it.    Anyway... excuse my little rant.

What I think you are describing is environmental economics.  Here is one example of a degree program, granted at the Doctorate level;

http://www.uri.edu/cels/enre/ENRE_phd.html

I think if we had enough people with this degree, we would have been able to see the folly of investing so heavily, through subsidies, in corn ethanol in this country.  Nobody took the time to model out what we were doing... to look at an overall systems model that would take into account what happened in other parts of the economy as corn was diverted into energy generation.  

We have to get much better at using the resources we have toward the best good.  There are lots of competing ideas for RE and we need somebody to tell us which ones offer the best bang fo the buck.  Somebody with computer skills and and environmental econ degree could be that person.      

 

 

 

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Damnthematrix
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?
Jim Hannah wrote:

Hello RL.  Wow.. DamntheMatrix was pretty  negative in a way... I don't interpret your desire as necessarily wanting to keep a "lifestyle" going, as much as finding a way to apply yourself in a more satifsying, meaningful way.  I will readily admit that I DO believe that we can solve our energy problems with concerted effort, focus, investment, and yes, TECHNOLOGY....

 

Hi Jim....  I don't remember crossing paths with you before, so hello......

I'm not negative for fun.  As an energy consultant, I have a crucial understanding of ERoEI.  I admit, it can take years before one suddenly realises we are stuffed....  the day my epiphany came, I will never forget, I only wish I had noted the day it happened so I could celebrate its anniversary!

I just posted this...  check it out (along with the myriad of other fascinating items in that thread: http://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/89468#comment-89468

Mike

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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

DTM

Do you know of any concentrator solar systems that combine cooling of their photovoltaics with hot water heating?  Just an idea i had to kill 2 birds.  I can't seem to find any in my research.  Somebody has had to have done work on that idea.

rl's picture
rl
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

Yes, I saw this company at a Solar show:

http://www.solarzentrum-allgaeu.de/Startseite/currentlanguage-English

Although, this one uses panels.  

CPV doesn't require cooling as much as standard PV, which is probably why you haven't seen it.

 

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docmims
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

Thank rl!!  You made my day!!  I am so happy someone is working on harnessing the waste heat of PV,  This would be a huge step forward in efficiency.  I hope this results in a product.  I have looked at thermal systems and they make sense since you can run them 24/7, but I just hate the thought of burning fuel.  This is an outstanding idea to combine photovoltaic with a thermal system.  Now just add some form of solar concentrator to minimize the number of cells per kilowatt and we're really cooking (boiling)Smile-- so to speak.

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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

And Greetings to You DamntheMatrix.  Sorry to come of as quarrelsome at first meeting here.  I am just not convinced of the common meme here that we cannot get through this transition.. no way, no how.  I tend to believe that we don't in fact have the will to do so...  just like we don't have the will nor leadership to right ourselves fiscally... but that's another story.  Anyway, while I don't believe we will make the investment, or have the leadership in terms of energy... I firmly believe that it is possible.  I will admit that this is intuitive on my part... I have not done the math.  But as an engineering manager in high tech manufacturing... maybe I should. 

To start.. this doesn't sound too bad;

"This article reviews 112 wind turbines from 41 different analyses, ranging in publication date from 1977 to 2006. This survey shows average EROI for all studies (operational and conceptual) of 24.6 (n=109; std. dev=22.3). The average EROI for just the operational studies is 18.1 (n=158; std. dev=13.7). This places wind energy in a favorable position relative to conventional power generation technologies in terms of EROI."

http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/10/17/18478/085

There are so many technologies that will come to fruition near term;

*  Efficient catalytic electrolysis of water to form Hydrogen - thus allowing home storage of solar power as H2.

*  Cellulosic Ethanol;

"The study found that the net energy ratio (energy out/energy in) is 1.2 for ethanol produced from corn and 8.3 for cellulosic ethanol produced from switchgrass."

http://peakoil.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=17281

*  And of course, Thorium Nukes.

Look, Brazil runs their motor fleet on sugar cane ethanol.... and yeah, they cut down rainforest to do it... but there are better ways to make ethanol.  Ethanol is beautiful because it can be made at the local level from whatever excess crops you have.... say the drop apples at my local orchard that can't be (legally) used in cider?  Ethanol is also nice because you can run most cars on it with inexpensive modifications, which cuts the legs out from under the argument that our motor fleet just can't turn over that fast.  Well... it doesn't have to... we just need lots of enterprising people with stills!  

Again, I think we are doomed too.... but not for lack of options or possibility.  I think we are doomed because our Gov't is captured by corp. interests that favor the status quo (big oil, coal, etc).    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rl's picture
rl
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

I can't help thinking in terms of SWOT analysis.
Strengths,Weaknesses,Opportunities, Threats

Threats
- less oil, high oil prices

Opportunities,
- alternatives to oil become very important and viable

Thus the question.

My psychology has been bouncing back and forth between
Positive:  Things will change, but think positive
and
negative:  the whole society is going to crash.

Even if it does completely crash, isn't it up to us to be resourceful, and make some kind of contribution?

BTW, check out all the very cool technologies at:
http://www.peswiki.com

So, getting back to the original question, does anyone have any thoughts on a Masters?

Thanks

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g_gunter
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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

I tend to lean toward's Damnthematrix's perspective on this. I don't think we are prepared for what's coming.

G

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Re: Green MBA, Masters in renewable energy, sustainability?

I plan to begin my MBA in Sustainable Business in January.

G

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
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Posts: 345
Green MBA

RL,

A couple of years ago, I thought very hard about an MBA with a sustainability and RE concentration. Ultimately, I decided that it would be a waste of my time. These were the negatives that led me to scrap the idea:

-There are tons of MBA's out there looking for a job, a dime a dozen comes to mind

- Even with the concentration in sustainability, less than 25% of the coursework actually had any sort of sustainability bent.

-After reviewing the course descriptions, and running my own business' for 15 years, I felt that it was not going to teach me anything useful that I could not or have not already learned by doing

-In my opinion an MBA is just a check box to allow you the possibility to get hired by a large corporation

-College is way overpriced

-Please don't take out any loans to do it, as school loans are non-recourse. They cannot be discharged in bankruptcy

 

******Having said all that, I think it is great that you are being proactive in your career. We have too many paper pushing MBA's already, but you might want to consider something where your skills will really be needed. Maybe a Masters of Science in RE. Most of the coursework is math & science related. Or maybe chemical, mining, or petroleum engineering. We have a shortage of engineers in these fields.

http://www.udayton.edu/engineering/aos_content/ms_renewable_clean_energy.php

Good Luck

Phil

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katyan
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green MBA?

You've sparked an interesting discussion about careers and education in the face of an uncertain future. As someone who has been down this path, I'll humbly offer my thoughts on the topic. I've had the luxury of stepping back from the day-to-day pressures of a full-time job for the past year and a half, which has given me time to read and think about these issues in depth, and to do more personal preparedness. At this point, I've done the corporate climbing bit (senior VP of a national company at age 27), started and run a couple of businesses (including one in the IT field), and worked in the university and nonprofit sectors related to sustainability. At this point for me, it's not about personal "success" or accumulating money, but figuring out a way to make a meaningful positive contribution to the world while earning enough for a modest livelihood. It sounds as if that may be in line with your goals.

I'm familiar with business school sustainability programs, and seriously considered getting a PhD at one of the pioneer b-schools in the field about 10 years ago. Ultimately, I decided not to pursue an advanced degree for various reasons - age, finances and lack of patience with BS. You should keep in mind that b-schools have their own agendas driven by rankings and attracting $, and they are primarily feeding graduates directly into large corporations and financial institutions...so you can figure out where their loyalties ultimately lie. Even within schools with strong sustainability programs, there is anything but consensus by the majority of the faculty, administrators and alumni. One exception is Bainbridge Graduate Institute (http://www.bgi.edu), which is a stand-alone graduate program. The Aspen Institute is a good source for reviews of b-schools if you want to research that route further...their annual report Beyond Gray Pinstripes (www.beyondgreypinstripes.org) provides an excellent overview of social and environmental responsibility in business schools.

That said, in my roles with a university-based renewable energy center and a sustainability nonprofit over several years, I worked closely with a number of business school sustainabiltiy initiatives and found the people involved to be sincerely dedicated to trying to change business culture from within.

Personally, I've tried to remain cautiously optimisic that we could navigate a "soft landing", but have come to the conclusion that major disruptions are unavoidable and imminent. However, I think the probabilities for a Kunstler-style post-apocalyptic world any time soon are still relatively low. We have a lot of infrastructure, resources and know-how to draw on in the short/mid-term; once a critical mass of people are finally forced to abandon their fantasies that things will eventually go back to the way they were, we will likely see rapid innovation at the local/regional level. It won't be smooth or pretty or fast, and much will be lost, but the need for appropriate management, technical and mechanical skills will become even more critical.

Given your current base of business and technical skills, I might consider building knowledge and skills on either end of the spectrum...theoretical and in-the-trenches. On one hand, understanding broad topics such as systems theory, mass balance, energy flows/physics, bioregionalism and ecosystem services will provide a framework for developing and evaluating truly sustainable solutions and avoiding going down rabbit holes. On the other hand, practical mechanical skills combined with ingenuity should be in high demand in a world where replacement parts are hard to come by and equipment must be run on alternative power sources.

Once you have determined the specific knowledge/skillsets that you want to acquire...and I would strongly encourage thinking about those that would be in demand for a number of different scenarios for the future...fully evaluate the costs/ benefits of the various methods for acquiring them. Think beyond our current fixation on formal certifications. The sheer number of MBA's floating around these days makes me question the value of that degree even now, much less in a very different future. I totally agree with the person who advised against going into debt...just don't do it! Also, be sure to count your time as a major cost. Options other than grad school might include:

- self study
- webinars
- workshops
- community college courses
- internships/apprenticeships

My final bit of advice is that personal integrity and the ability to communicate & work well with others are more important than any technical skill. Over and over again, we hear people talking about relocalization and community resilience as the most viable solutions moving forward. I can tell you from painful personal experience that these "soft skills" have always been, and likely always will be, the most critical element for a successful, satisfying career and life.

I hope this is helpful in some small way. Good luck!

 

Van Kent's picture
Van Kent
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Anyone seen a viable macroeconomic model (or a Green Bank) ?

Before, or soon after, a "Big Crash" people who now are living like ostriches about the causes and implication of the key issues that our generation will have to solve, will start to ask for an alternative. But do we have an alternative? Does anyone have an alternative? Does anyone have a "solution"?

Has anyone seen a truly viable (new) macroeconomic model? 

What will happen after the "Big Crash", shall we continue as before, with the same banks, federal reserve,  government institutions and stock markets and so forth ? If that is the case then nothing changes and we will be heading for a multiple Crash scenario. After the first big Crash, nothing changed, everything got back to "normal", so just a decade after the "Big Crash" came "Big Crash 2" and still a decade later "Big Crash 3" so on and so forth.

If we do not have an alternative, if we do not have a plan, if we do not have a way of making humanity as a whole live in balance with nature, a macroeconomic model of how the economy, banks and institutions organize themselves so that the economy stays afloat (this means simply money being used as a medium of exchange for goods and services Money -> Taxes -> Government -> Banks -> Stock exchange -> growth system -> Crash..) at the same time that humanity as a whole live in balance with nature, then the very survival of the our species is threatened (in the long term), is it not? (Crash 1 -> Crash 2 -> Crash 13 -> Extinction)

This is therefore the key question of  our species, the key question of our generation, "What is the macroeconomic model that enables Man to live in balance with nature?"  

The key element in the contemporary worldwide capitalist growth-model is the role of banks. So if anyone has seen a truly Green Bank, then it would suggest that at least somebody (all or some of the people associated with the bank) has grasped a new novel innovative social innovation that will actually be the key in "saving the planet" (either before or after the first Big Crash). The people behind/ associated/ customers of the Green Bank would be the people that in their own lives are trying out what must be the new ways in which large parts of the society (also internationally) will organize before or after the first Big Crash.

So if anyone has stumbled upon a viable macroeconomic model, or a truly Green Bank please let me know, thank you (getting a little bit concerned here.. our time is running out..).

The characteristics of a truly Green Bank would be: A. Capital gathering in new and innovative ways, for an example human labour is capital, so a new and innovative way of gathering capital would be to organize labour, all Bank members pledge some collectively agreed upon time and effort, that the Green Bank organizes into useful goods and services. B. Capital is used not just into "Green Growth" or "Green Collar Jobs", but actually in ventures and efforts where humanity as a whole live in balance with nature, nothing more nothing less. All work and action requires capital in some form, therefore logically in the long-long run either humanity will cease to exist, or all the banks on our planet are somehow someway truly Green Banks.  C. The Green Bank would most certainly not be a corporation with stock and shareholders. A Bank with shareholders would be hard pressed to allocate capital into efforts that lets humanity live in balance with nature, because such admirable ventures would most certainly not be the most profitable ones (at least in the short term). Therefore the bank could not have stock or shareholders, because the aim of the bank would not absolutely be the seeking of highest profit but those things and jobs that simply are absolutely required so that Man and nature live in balance with each other.

Without a viable macroeconomic model and without a truly Green Bank we can not hope to correct our present mistakes, before or after the Big Crash 1, 2 or N:o 13. So this is in my mind the making or breaking of our species, so please respond if such social innovations have come your way.

Thank you !

rgrds. Van Kent      

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tisanjosh
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When some body ask me about

When some body ask me about solar energy so i advice him/her to check this site:

solar in kent

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 3% and are growing very rapidly.

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Renewable energy is energy

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 3% and are growing very rapidly

tisanjosh's picture
tisanjosh
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Renewable energy is energy

Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally replenished). About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from hydroelectricity. New renewables (small hydro, modern biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels) accounted for another 3% and are growing very rapidly

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yana_3
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Yes I feel in coming years,

Yes I feel in coming years, green energy MBA is going to be a lot in demand. At present, it is not that bright but down two to five years its prospects are very high. I think under Thunderbird laureate partnership new schools are going to open offering these degrees. 

http://www.laureate.net/LGGSite/LGG/OurNetwork/Highlights/2013/03/Thunderbird%20Plans%20Partnership%20With%20Laureate%20Education%20Inc%20Expands%20Global%20Presence.aspx%C2%A0%C2%A3

 

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