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What is the life of a solar engineer like?

Hi! I have a variety of questions about what it's like to be a solar engineer, because I'm extremely interested in the field of renewable energy and meshing it with engineering. So my questions are-
What is the life of a solar engineer like? (For you) Is it fulfilling?
Are you satisfied with your income? What does it look like?
How hard was your schooling?
Was it easy to find employment?

Thank you so much for all of your help! :) #engineering #renewable-energy #solar-energy #solar #solar-engineering


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Pete’s Answer

Hi Catterina,


As a mechanical engineer, I've worked on several solar power projects in the past. Indeed, it is fulfilling work to build power plants that use solar energy to heat water into steam to drive a steam turbine generator. Designing the steam turbine to handle varying steam conditions pose interesting problems that the engineer must solve. Renewable energy in general is an exciting field even so given it's limitations. To become a solar engineer, you would major in either electrical or mechanical engineering and then try to find a job in the power industry in regions where solar energy and wind energy are growing. Because renewable energy is limited in its application (i.e., sunny areas like southern California, Arizona, New Mexico for solar projects and windy areas for wind power such as the mid-Atlantic states), the job market will be a bit more competitive. But, don't let that sway you, by the time you graduate, we may have an energy policy that places renewable energy as a priority. In the meantime, engineering is a tough major but, if I did it, so can you. It's tough because it requires some more discipline than other non-STEM majors. It also requires time, dedication, and the desire to learn how to solve problems that confront society. If you have such an extreme interest in renewable energy and engineering, I don't think it will be too difficult for you at all. As you prepare for college, get as much exposure to mathematics, physics and solar energy as possible. Also, be sure to learn some fundamentals of the business side of solar power. Here are some useful links for you:


On working as a solar engineer: http://www.environmentalscience.org/career/solar-engineer
On the solar power industry: http://www.seia.org/research-resources/major-solar-projects-list
On solar energy in general: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power
A project I worked on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mojave_Solar_Project


Good luck to you!


Thank you so much for your answer, it was extremely helpful! Catterina G.

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naveen’s Answer

Solar engineers work in any number of areas of engineering products that help harness energy from the sun.
They sphere of knowledge includes Mechanical, Electrical and Civil Engineering.
They research, design, and develop new products, or they may work in testing, production, or maintenance.
They may collect and manage data to help design solar systems.
The engineer typically begins with a client consultation, site assessment, and financial assessment, which help him
or her understand the project's context.
The Solar Engineer is responsible for engineering, design (using AutoCAD), and delivery of grid connected solar photovoltaic systems (including rooftop, carport and ground mounted arrays) on time and on budget. The Solar Engineer will manage proposals and the bid/award process for obtaining these services, and will provide project management and design consultation for all projects. Design to include; scope of work, complete bill of materials, specifications, bid drawings and project schedule.

REQUIREMENTS:
1. BSEE/BSME Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
2. NABCEP Certification
3. Knowledge of codes such as the NEC and UBC.
4. Strong knowledge of photovoltaic system design and optimizing system components for energy production.
5. Strong AutoCAD skills (2010-2012 software for 2D architectural and electrical plans)
6. Working knowledge of energy modeling, PV specific modeling, standard electrical calculations, basic structural & mechanical calculation
7. Strong communication, presentation, and project management skills


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