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Can I as a Computer Engineering major branch off to do something related to Green Energy after my undergraduate studies?

Once I started Computer Engineering, it was all fun at the start but I realized I would want to be engaged in projects developing safer and more environmentally friendly energy solutions but I chose to not switch majors right away since this might launch me into another field eventually.

#green-energy #engineering #solar #computer #electrical-engineering

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Ashish’s Answer

Hi Delanyo,

CS can contribute to renewable energy in several ways:

1. Better controls algorithms can reduce capital expenses - better controls mean that wind turbines can respond to load cases (high winds, turbulent winds, wind shear, e.g.) more efficiently and more dynamically. By doing so, wind turbine engineers can reduce the physical materials (steel, fiberglass, etc.) required in the wind turbine, thus lowering the up-front cost of wind power and making it more competitive with other forms of power generation.

2. Better software can reduce operating expenses - People use software to run their power plants, to optimize their staffing, to compare one wind farm against another. Lowering operating expenses is another way to help make renewable power more cost competitive with other forms of power gen.

3. Better forecasting software leads to more optimal energy bidding strategies. In many parts of the world, power generators have to bid how much power they can produce into hour-ahead clearing markets. By more accurately knowing when the resource is going to change quickly, energy traders can maximize their participation in the market and minimize penalities for underproducing to their bid.

That's just scratching the surface. There are tons of opportunities in machine learning,.

With IOT, AI and ML everything which we do now, from switching off lights at home, to on street, to it's brightness, to water the plants, to thrive them at the right sunlight in house, to controlling the flow of these can all be controlled using the system running on very efficient codes. Have a look at below article:


There are many great answers as well on Quora, recommend reading these:


Once you've decided which field of Green Energy you're aiming at, I think it's all about exploring the techs involved and your own innovation. Sky is the limit!

Best Wishes!

Thanks, Ashish, again I see more opportunities for software/computer engineers. Delanyo A.

This is a fantastic answer. I worked in the green energy software space and this is all very on point. Yonatan Schultz

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Ben’s Answer

Definitely! Computer Engineering is a useful skillset that can be applied to a wide range of applications, including green energy.

I studied computer science in college, and worked for a while at a software company building monitoring software for solar energy systems. Having a software background was very useful in helping that company solve problems related to how to monitor and report on the performance of solar energy systems. The additional physics background that you'd likely get as part of a computer engineering degree would be a big help as well (I didn't have that, but I wish that I would have).

Green energy sources often require significantly more complex control plane infrastructure and forecasting techniques than traditional energy sources, increasing the need for sophisticated software to operate them. If you're interested in the monitoring and control aspects of green energy, I'd suggest learning about embedded systems. I'd also suggest making sure you get some basic physics classes in, so that you're comfortable with the physics terminology and concepts around energy production.

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Esteban’s Answer

Absolutely you can branch off into doing something related to Green Energy. Here's what I see happening. Engineering is becoming key and core to being able to do something with a large impact in most any area. The ability to think of a solution for a problem that is happening in an area like Grean Energy and the more importantly being able to code a solution to solve that problem is going to be massively important. Here's an example: As a computer engineering grad you could help make the software running solar panels, solar controllers, or battery regulators work better and more efficiently.

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G. Mark’s Answer

No question. Be aware of the fact that computers have pretty much invaded every aspect of human needs, activities and problem solving. A Computer Engineering major has a fantastically general set of skills to apply to all sorts of problems. Green Energy depends on the efficient use of our available resources. Computers are absolutely necessary to achieve this.

Once you graduate and are looking for a position, focus on those industries and companies that are involved in the use of energy. And how many of the companies you'll be exposed to are interested in efficient use of energy? Yes -- quite a few if not all. Once you get a toehold and some experience in your company of choice, you'll get more latitude and control over your projects. So try to get more involvement in Green Energy at that point. There's nothing preventing you from moving to another company more involved with GE, but it's a fantastic start. Innovations and amazing progress are not the results of passive observation, but the result of people who desire solutions -- like yourself -- taking initiative.