Renewable Electric Energy Systems (REES) Graduate Certificate

North Carolina State University, NCSU Campus, Raleigh, NC 27695

The Renewable Electric Energy System (REES) certificate program is a one of a kind graduate program which allows students to be work side by side with researchers developing the electric grid of the future, powered by solar energy. This program is housed within the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Center in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at NC State University. This Center was formed as a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for the creation of a green energy grid.

Program Description

The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department and the FREEDM (Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management) Systems Center offer a graduate level academic certificate program in Renewable Electric Energy Systems (REES). The REES Graduate Certificate Program provides graduate students with the opportunity to develop expertise in renewable electric energy systems and advanced electric power grid technology in addition to their major area of graduate study. The certificate also provides non-degree graduate level students the opportunity to develop expertise in Renewable Electric Energy Systems and advanced electric power grid technology.

To earn the REES Graduate Certificate, a minimum of 12 hours of coursework must be completed. All students are required to take the Renewable Electric Energy Systems course that focuses on the principals of renewable based generation technologies such as solar, wind, and fuel cells and their integration into the power grid. Students have the flexibility to choose three other courses from a list which includes courses on power system operation and control, power electronics, power plants, solar systems, electric vehicle systems.

Program Attributes

Special features of this program include:

This program is for students who desire to upgrade their skills and knowledge in renewable energy technologies, electric vehicles, power systems, and power electronics.  The program is targeted towards both graduate students and working professionals and may be completed entirely online and on a part time basis.

Lessons Learned in Development and Operation of Certificate Program:

Students need to have a solid understanding and background in Electrical Engineering to successfully complete this program.  The program also provides a pathway for further graduate studies at Master and PhD levels.

Case Study Interview

1. What inspired you to spearhead the effort to integrate solar content into your courses, curriculum, or programs?

Interview with Dr. Mesut Baran

The integration of smart grid technologies, renewable energy technologies, and a growing interest from students to learn about these technologies and addressing the needs of industry were all of the contributing components to develop the REES Certificate program.

2. What major obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

Financing was the major obstacle; the program was only possible due to a large 10 year grant funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF)

3. What were the keys to successfully achieving solar content integration (e.g., support of a person or persons; part of a planned curriculum improvement project; recommendations from industry or an advisory board; etc.)?

For integrating Renewable related topics in ECE curriculum, the key is the relevance, if there is a power program, then it becomes much easier.

4. How long did the process take from initial concept presentation or proposal to implementation?

It took approximately one year to go through the approvals at the University.

5. Was this primarily a one-person effort, or did you have one or more partners who shared a significant portion of the workload?

There was a team of three faculty members that shared the workload.

6. What products or services from your Regional Training Provider (RTP) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) were most useful to you in achieving solar content integration at your institution?

These resources have not been used.

7. Are there other products or services that you would suggest for the RTPs and/or the SITN to offer that would be helpful in the process of implementing solar content integration?

To ensure we have globally competitive engineers regarding renewable energy technologies, it would be advantageous to embed financial and policy issues into the existing curriculum. This will require some collaboration with an expert on this topic.

8. Would you be willing to share course proposals, curriculum improvement proposals, and/or curriculum outlines for the courses, curriculum, and programs that you used as part of the solar content integration process?


9. If yes, would you agree to have these materials available on the IREC web site (with links from the RTP web sites)?

Yes, curriculum for the Power Generation Course.

10. Would you be willing to be listed as a contact person on the IREC web site to share your solar content integration experience with other interested parties?



11. Would you be willing and able to specify all occupations for which the training that you offer applies (e.g., this program trains students for these occupations/jobs)?

The majority of the students enrolled in REES are either working professionals who want to enhance their skills in renewable energy technologies and power or working on a master’s degree in engineering.

12. Was specific funding appropriated for solar content integration into related course, curriculum, and/or program development?

The REES program did not have designated funding

13. If special funding was available, would you be willing to share the amount of funding on the IREC web site?


Course Listings

List of All Required and Elective Courses by Course Number, Title, and Credit Hours

The Graduate Certificate in Renewable Electric Energy Systems requires a minimum of 12 hours, and includes the following courses:

Core Course (3 hours)

ECE552: Renewable Electric Energy Systems

Advanced Courses (Choose any three from the following, 3 hours each)

ECE550 – Power System Operation and Control

ECE534 – Power Electronics

ECE551 – Smart Distribution Systems

MAE406 – Energy Conservation in Industry

ECE792B – Electric Vehicle Systems

MAE(ECE)535 – Electromechanical Systems Design

ECE554 – Electric Motor Drives

ECE581 – Power System Protection

ECE734 – Three-Phase ConvertersECE736 – Power System Stability

Note: A student may obtain NCSU graduate certificate in different fields as long as each certificate has at least nine (9) credit hours that are unique to it.

Admission Requirements

Applicants with appropriate background must meet ONE of the three following requirements:

•   Be a graduate of an accredited four-year college or university, and have a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4-point scale in their last 60 credit hours of undergraduate study

•   Be a degree student in good standing in an NC State University graduate program

•   Have a BSc degree in Electrical Engineering

•   Non-degree applicants who do not have a BSc in Electrical Engineering will be required to take and pass the following courses with a B or higher grade prior to applying to the program. ECE 200, ECE 211, ECE 220, and ECE 305

Desired Student Learning Outcomes

Students successfully completing the REES program will be able to:

  • Describe the operating principles of renewable electrical energy systems (REES) – photovoltaic and wind energy systems-as well as conventional power generation systems.
  • Calculate the basic performance parameters of a power generation system, such as power rating, expected energy, efficiency, and cost.
  • Apply the basic steady state models for the main components of a generation system for analysis (stead-state) and design of a generation system.
  • Describe the operating principles of power electronic converters used in REES.
  • Simulate the main power electronic converter systems used in REES and their control schemes.
  • Perform basic design of a REES for a given application.
  • Perform studies related to the integration of such system to a power grid.

Academic Performance

Award of a Graduate Certificate in Renewable Electric Energy Systems (REES) requires a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. None of the required 12 hours may be taken for S/U or “credit only”. No transfer credits from other institutions are allowed for the certificate. All students must be registered through NC State University. All REES requirements must be completed within the first four (4) calendar years beginning with the date the students begin the course work for the certificate. All Certificate students are expected to maintain continuous enrollment every semester (excluding summer sessions) until all course work is completed. Under unusual circumstances, a one-semester leave of absence will be granted if the student is unable to enroll in a course. Written approval from the certificate coordinator must be obtained before the beginning of the semester.

Non-Degree Seeking Students (formerly Lifelong Education students)

Those who wish to undertake academic work beyond the Bachelor’s degree, but are not currently admitted to a graduate degree program, may enroll under the Post-Baccalaureate Studies (PBS) classification in order to participate in the Certificate Program. This classification is open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and international students who are sponsored by an agency of the U.S. government or who are married to an NCSU student.

Non-degree students who do not have a Master’s in Electrical Engineering will be required to take and pass the following courses with a B or higher grade prior to applying to the program: ECE 200, ECE 211, ECE 220, and ECE 305.


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