Wind Energy, Graduate Certificate

Department of Mechanical Engineering

College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences

This certificate is currently available to on-campus students and will be offered Online in Fall 2020.

The Wind Energy Graduate Certificate (WEGC) is a program designed to give students the training necessary for careers in the wind energy industry. Wind energy is now a mainstream power conversion technology, with prospects to grow substantially in the future.  Along with this growth will come the need for many new businesses and professionals working in the industry.
The WEGC is a 15-credit program that will be available to on-campus students.  Two graduate, wind-energy specific courses concentrating on the fundamental electrical, mechanical and wind flow aspects of wind energy, and are required for all students. These courses provide students with the foundational material necessary to understand wind energy conversion systems. Three additional courses, selected from several possible course topics and disciplines, may be selected by the student to tailor their certificate toward the specialty in which they wish to work. Students enrolled in the program may complete the requirements concurrent with their M.S. or Ph.D. degrees, or as non-degree seeking students that intend only to earn the graduate certificate.

    • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many graduate certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.
    • No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 - 4 units) may be used on a graduate certificate program.
    • No more than twenty-five percent of the units required for the certificate program may be transferred from another university.
    • A 400-level course (undergraduate course) completed at another university is not eligible for transfer credit.
    • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved to obtain a graduate certificate. No more than three units of coursework with a Grade of "C" may be used in a certificate program.
    • A graduate student may pursue a graduate certificate concurrently with a graduate degree. Each graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree.
    • Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College.
  • Please be aware that federal financial aid is not available for some certificates, if the certificate is pursued and completed as a stand-alone certificate (i.e., not completed concurrently with a degree program).  See the “Details” tab for additional information.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 15
Additional Admission Requirements Required

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this 15-credit Graduate Certificate in Wind Energy is to prepare students for professional, technical careers in the wind industry and in wind energy research and development. Students will learn in-depth how to analyze and design wind turbine mechanical, electrical, and control systems, including: wind turbine electrical generator topologies; wind turbine aerodynamics and rotor blade design; wind energy resources and wind resource assessment; interconnection and integration of wind power plants to the grid; power converters for wind turbines, fixed- and variable-speed induction generator based wind energy systems, design and control of wind energy conversion systems, transient and steady-state analysis of wind energy systems, including issues specific to on-shore and off-shore applications. Beyond these technical topics, students will also become conversant in the broader societal, environmental, regulatory and economic aspects of wind energy necessary for professional practice. Recipients of a graduate certificate will have depth of knowledge in their discipline applied to wind energy, and a broad understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of wind energy. Courses are taught by faculty with experience and expertise in wind energy applications and research.
The certificate program is designed for students with undergraduate degrees in an engineering discipline or a closely related field. Students may earn a certificate concurrently with their MS or PhD degrees at NAU, or as non-degree seeking students only intent on earning the graduate certificate. The certificate has two core classes (6-credit hours) that all students take, plus three elective courses (9-credit hours).  These electives may be selected from a wide array of approved course that are of direct relevance to wind energy, allowing students the flexibility to tailor the certificate to their specific interests.
Due to its low cost and environmentally desirable characteristics, wind energy is rapidly being adopted around the world and is now a mainstream energy generation technology. Thus, it is a quickly growing field with many professional opportunities for certificate recipients both in the United States and abroad. Though an established technology, wind energy continues to evolve as turbines grow ever larger and more sophisticated for utility applications, and ever more practical and reliable for off-grid and microgrid applications. This program seeks to inspire innovation and creativity in its graduates, grounded in the principles of good engineering practice.
According to the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, nearly 107,000 workers are employed in the wind energy industry, which is the third highest among electrical energy generation technologies. It is interesting to note that 26% employers in this sector reported extreme difficulty hiring qualified workers. This graduate certificate addressing the design fundamentals will provide students with the necessary theoretical and practical background to enable them to become renewable energy engineers capable of meeting today’s renewable energy industry needs. This graduate certificate will introduce students to the breadth of wind energy systems from the mechanical and electrical engineering perspectives.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the certificate program, students will:

  • Have an understanding of on-shore and off-shore wind energy conversion systems that is necessary for professional engineering practice, including the energy available in the wind, how wind turbines capture that energy, convert it into useful mechanical and electrical energy, and ultimately deliver it to customers on-grid or off-grid;
  • Demonstrate an ability to design a wind energy conversion system or component to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability;
  • Possess the ability to use the techniques, skills and modern tools necessary for engineering practice in wind energy, including computer-aided solution methods, demonstrated through development and/or application of computer models of wind turbines, wind generators, controllers for fixed-speed and variable-speed wind turbines, and wind turbine rotor aerodynamics and design;
  • Have a working knowledge of wind energy technical challenges such as grid code requirements and wind turbine aerodynamic power regulation methods such as stall, pitch, and active stall control methods with respect to implementation, control complexity, and wind energy conversion efficiency.
  • Have an ability to devise wind engineering solutions and evaluate their technical and economic merits, understanding their potential environmental impacts, in order to meet established goals in a global and societal context; and
  • Have knowledge of contemporary issues related to wind energy, and an understanding of how those issues impact wind energy conversion system design, application and regulation.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • An accredited undergraduate degree in an engineering discipline
    • An undergraduate degree in science or mathematics is also a possible path into the program, though some background work in foundational engineering, math or science courses may be required in order to satisfy the prerequisite requirements for the certificate courses.
Certificate Requirements
  • This certificate may be pursued and completed concurrently with a degree program or as a stand-alone certificate. Federal financial aid cannot be used if the certificate is completed as a stand-alone certificate.

  • If pursued concurrently with a graduate degree, the graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can also count toward the graduate degree.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.