This fall, the University of Wisconsin-Madison launched a professional master’s degree in Resource and Energy Demand Analysis (REDA)—the first program of its kind. The 18 students in the inaugural class will develop the quantitative skills to manage and evaluate energy efficiency and resource conservation programs.
The program, housed within the Agricultural & Applied Economics department, will prepare them for successful careers with utilities, consulting firms, regulators, and other organizations involved in protecting natural resources. There’s a high demand for such specialized skills, given the growth of energy and resource-conservation programs around the world.
“I saw firsthand the skills gap that exists in the energy and natural resource industries,” says program director Bill Provencher. “New technologies, like the NEST learning thermostat and smart electric meters, are enabling a wave of innovative energy efficiency and resource conservation programs. These programs need careful evaluation to see what works. While at Navigant Consulting, my colleagues and I had a difficult time finding employees with a robust analytical toolkit needed to conduct analyses in today’s data-intensive world.”
A marketable skillset
REDA students will earn their master’s degrees in just 10 months. Through a combination of face-to-face and online classes, they’re learning economic theory, survey methodology, econometrics, and statistics—everything they’ll need to find jobs.
“Students gain a marketable skillset that will open the door to a wide variety of career options,” says program coordinator Bethany Glinsmann. “REDA develops students’ quantitative and analytical skills while providing them with a solid understanding of economic theory. It also focuses on developing students’ written and oral communication skills. Performing an appropriate and well-executed analysis is important, but unless you are able to communicate your findings in a meaningful way, your hard work will go to waste.”
REDA students bring a wide variety of academic and professional experiences to the program, but there is one common theme: they want to influence the way we interact with our environment.
“The students recognize that conservation and efficient use of our resources are key to supporting long-term economic growth and societal well-being,” says Provencher. “They want to apply their quantitative minds to affect environmental policy and inform resource management program design, leading to a more sustainable future.”
Colleagues and partners
Provencher is finding all sorts of out-of-class opportunities for the REDA students, including the Energy Utility Basics workshop, seminars offered at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Wisconsin Energy Institute, and presentations by industry experts from the Madison area.
“These will augment the classroom and help our students begin to establish their professional networks,” Provencher says.
All REDA students take the same courses, which makes for a rich learning experience within the cohort.
“Students spend time together in the classroom and study groups, but also in extracurricular and social activities,” says Glinsmann. “They are developing a strong bond with their peers, and we expect this bond to remain after graduation, when their cohort will serve as their colleagues and partners throughout their professional career.”
For more information on the master’s degree in Resource and Energy Demand Analysis, see here.