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Solar Energy

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads research in innovative technologies that will make renewable electricity generation cost competitive with fossil fuels. There are two primary technologies that can harness the sun’s power and turn it into electricity. The first is photovoltaics, or PV for short. These are the panels you’ve seen on rooftops or in fields. When the sun shines onto a solar panel, photons from the sunlight are absorbed by the cells in the panel, which creates an electric field across the layers and causes electricity to flow. An individual PV cell is usually small, typically producing about 1 or 2 watts of power. To boost the power output of PV cells, they are connected together in chains to form larger units known as modules or panel arrays.

PV arrays must be mounted on a stable, durable structure that can support the array and withstand wind, rain, hail, and corrosion over decades. These structures tilt the PV array at a fixed angle determined by the local latitude, and electrical load requirements. To obtain the highest annual energy output, modules in the northern hemisphere are pointed due south and inclined at an angle equal to the local latitude. For PV arrays mounted on the ground, on the other hand, tracking mechanisms automatically move panels to follow the sun across the sky, which provides more energy and a higher return on investment (ROI). One-axis trackers are typically designed to track the sun from east to west. Two-axis trackers allow for modules to remain pointed directly at the sun throughout the day. Naturally, tracking involves more up-front costs and sophisticated systems are more expensive and require more maintenance.

Inverters are used to convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar photovoltaic modules into alternating current (AC). PV systems either have one inverter that converts the electricity generated by all of the modules, or microinverters that are attached to each individual module. A single inverter is generally less expensive and can be more easily cooled and serviced when needed. By comparison, the microinverter allows for independent operation of each panel, which is useful if some modules might be shaded, for example. Finally, large batteries allow for the storage of solar photovoltaic energy when bad weather blocks sunlight from reaching the photovoltaic panels.

Organic PV, or OPV, cells are composed of carbon-rich polymers and can be tailored to enhance a specific function of the cell, such as sensitivity to a certain type of light. This technology has the theoretical potential to provide electricity at a lower cost than silicon or thin-film technologies. Concentration PV, also known as CPV, focuses sunlight onto a solar cell by using a mirror or lens. By focusing sunlight onto a small area, less PV material is required. PV materials become more efficient at energy conversion as the light becomes more concentrated, so the highest overall efficiencies are obtained with CPV cells and modules. However, more expensive materials, manufacturing techniques, and tracking are required, so demonstrating the necessary cost advantage over today's high-volume silicon modules has become challenging. This technology uses mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat, which can then be used to produce electricity.

Mechanical Engineering
Cutting Forces
Mechanics of Machining
Velocity Analysis
Degrees of Freedom
Mohr's Cirlce
Von-Mises Stress
design and manufacturing i
design and manufacturing ii
toy design
intro to robotics
sail and yacht design
direct thermal solar

Aircraft Design, Aerospace
aerospace engineering 1
thermal energy
automatic control
structural mechanics
aircraft control
human factors engineering
propulsion systems
space propulsion
ionized gases
systems engineering
satellite engineering
aircraft systems engineering
bio-inspired structures

environmental design
architectural design
glass houses
contemporary architecture
building technology
energy flow in buildings
structural design
historic structures
construction materials
structural systems
natural lighting
Analysis of Beam
Method of Joints
Method of Sections
Mohr's Cirlce
Von-Mise Stress
Theories of Failure

Materials Science
intro to materials science
materials processing
polymer engineering
solid state chemistry
materials in human experience
fracture and fatigue
welding and joining
physical metallurgy
photonic materials
electrochemical processing
mechanics of plastics

Nuclear Engineering
Kalina Cycle
Thermal Power Plant
applied nuclear physics
engineering of nuclear systems
nuclear reactor safety
nuclear fuel
nuclear reactors
medical imaging
plasma physics
superconducting magnets
geiger counters
Automotive Engineering
Diesel Engine
Diesel vs Petrol
Manual Transmission
Slip Differential
Fuel Cell Technology
Gear Design
gas and diesel engines

Heat Transfer
Thermodynamics 1
Thermodynamics 2
Fluid Dynamics 1
Fluid Dynamics 2

Gas Turbine
Steam Turbine
Wind Turbine
Francis Turbine
Pelton Turbine
Kaplan Turbine
Centrifugal Pump
Centrifugal Pump 2
Steam Turbine

Electric Motors
DC Motor
Brushless DC Motor
Single Phase Motor
3 Phase Motor
RMF - 1P Motor
RMF - 3P Motor

Electrical Engineering
electromagnetism 1
solid state circuits
circuits and electronics
power electronics
photovoltaics - solar energy
antennas and signals
electric machines

Computer Science
intro to algorithms
artificial intelligence
JAVA programming
programming languages
computer systems 1
database systems
computer graphics
network security
computer systems security
natural language processing
machine learning
intro to C language

Civil Engineering
soil behavior
waste containment
soil mechanics
environmental chemistry
groundwater hydrology
aquatic chemistry
water quality control
atmospheric chemistry
wastewater treatment
environmental microbiology

Engineering Tests

Each of the following multiple-choice engineering tests has 10 questions to practice on. No sign up required, just straight to the test.

Solar Power Department Rankings - Undergraduate

PV installers learn their trade on the job by working with experienced installers. On-the-job training usually lasts up to a year, depending on the complexity of the system. During training, PV installers learn about safety, tools, and PV system installation techniques. Further, roofing apprentices and journey carpenters may complete photovoltaic-specific training modules through apprenticeships. Military veterans may benefit from the Solar Ready Vets program, which is an effort of the US Department of Energy to connect veterans with training and jobs in the solar industry.

Installers with knowledge of electrical work, such as licensed electricians, are highly valued by contractors. Certification can demonstrate a PV installer's competency in solar panel installation. The Electronics Technicians Association, International (ETA); the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners; and Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) Inc., all offer certification for PV installers.

Once the panels are installed, workers check the electrical systems for proper wiring, polarity, and grounding, and they also perform maintenance as needed. Photovoltaic arrays must be mounted at a fixed angle determined by the local latitude. Alternatively, automatic mechanisms may be installed to move panels to track the sun across the sky, which increases absorbtion of solar energy.

 1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Cambridge, MA
 2. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) - Pasadena, CA
 3. Stanford University - Stanford, CA
 4. University of California Berkeley - Berkeley, CA
 5. Cornell University - Ithaca, NY
 6. Princeton University - Princeton, NJ
 7. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI
 8. Harvey Mudd College - Claremont, CA
 9. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology - Terre Haute, IN
10. United States Military Academy - West Point, NY
11. Bucknell University - Lewisburg, PA
12. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - San Luis Obispo, CA
13. The Cooper Union - New York, NY
14. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach, FL
15. Georgia Institute of Technology - Atlanta, GA
16. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - Champaign, IL
17. Carnegie Mellon University - Pittsburgh, PA
18. Purdue University - West Lafayette, IN
19. University of Texas Austin - Austin, TX
20. University of Wisconsin - Madison, WI

    Source: US News, Forbes, and Bloomberg

Engineering & Computer Jobs

Solar photovoltaic installers held about 11,300 jobs in 2017. The median annual wage for solar photovoltaic installers was $39,240 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $60,570. Employment of solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow 95 percent from 2017 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The continued expansion and adoption of solar panel installation is expected to create new jobs. As the cost of PV solar panels continues to fall, more residential households are expected to take advantage of these energy systems, resulting in greater demand. Solar photovoltaic installers risk falls from ladders and roofs, shocks from electricity, and burns from hot equipment and materials while installing and maintaining PV systems.

Passive solar design takes advantage of a building’s site, climate, and materials to minimize energy use. A well-designed passive solar home first reduces heating and cooling loads through energy-efficiency strategies and then meets those reduced loads in whole or part with solar energy. Because of the small heating loads of modern homes it is very important to avoid oversizing south-facing glass and ensure that south-facing glass is properly shaded to prevent overheating and increased cooling loads in the spring and fall. A passive solar home collects heat as the sun shines through south-facing windows and retains it in materials that store heat, known as thermal mass. The share of the home’s heating load that the passive solar design can meet is called the passive solar fraction, and depends on the area of glazing and the amount of thermal mass. The ideal ratio of thermal mass to glazing varies by climate. Well-designed passive solar homes also provide daylight all year and comfort during the cooling season through the use of night-time ventilation.

Links below list current openings:Starting Salary
(up to)
10 Year Salary
(up to)
Aerospace Engineers$89,260$124,550
Aircraft Mechanics$39,300$71,780
Android Apps$84,350$97,900
Civil Engineers$72,120$104,420
Electrical Engineers$78,900$115,240
Environmental Engineers$72,590$106,230
Graphic Design$49,300$58,000
Industrial Engineering$70,630$100,980
Maintenance Technician$63,230$73,810
Mechanical Engineers$63,230$94,690
.NET Developer$88,620$108,000
Network Analysts$65,230$91,550
Robotics $82,160$92,550
Solar Energy$81,050$104,930
Software Development$79,920$95,250
Surveying $23,640$43,140
SWIFT, iOS$85,400$110,720
Technical Writers$60,850$91,720
Urban Planners$58,940$86,880
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Engineering Jobs
(updated hourly)
(up to)
Aerospace Engineers$89,260
Aircraft Mechanics$39,300
Android Apps$84,350
Civil Engineers$72,120
Electrical Engineers$78,900
Environmental Engineers$72,590
Graphic Design$49,300
Industrial Engineering$70,630
Maintenance Technician$63,230
Mechanical Engineers$63,230
.NET Developer$88,620
Network Analysts$65,230
Project Management$68,100
Robotics $82,160
Solar Energy$81,050
Software Development$79,920
Surveying $23,640
SWIFT, iOS$85,400
Technical Writers$60,850
Urban Planners $58,940
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This website is not affiliated with any educational institution, and all trademarks are exclusive property of the respective owners. College Inspector is the work of a group of Thai students in Bangkok, using info from the US Department of Education, Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). If any stats are incorrect, please contact us with the right data.

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