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Texas Colleges Going Green

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Schools around the Lone Star State are starting to turn one of today's trendiest colors -- green that is.  Many colleges and universities are implementing changes in curriculum that support environmentally friendly practices in various fields.  Integrating sustainability and green energy practices into curriculum is the way to go in today's higher education.

The Department of Engineering at Midwestern State University is proposing a big change to promote sustainability in their field.  Professors want to combine the Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Technology Majors into one major with an emphasis on green energy.

"We feel that our engineering students should be properly educated in this new frontier," said Dr. Sheldon Wang, Engineering Department Chair.

A new class, Renewable Energy Systems, will be a featured course in the new program.  But even outside of the classroom, professors are hoping students will take part in organizations that promote green energy.

"We're starting to merge extracurricular sustainable activities with some in-class experience that students in both these engineering programs will find useful," said Dr. Dale McDonald, faculty advisor for Engineers for a Sustainable World, or ESW.

Samantha Tomei is the Vice President of the MSU chapter of ESW.  She and other ESW members already have a project they want approved.  They hope to take the Legacy Park monument off the electric grid and power it solely with solar panels.

I'm involved because I don't know a lot about sustainable energy and it is nice to have the opportunities to try and apply knowledge," she said.

Other schools like Vernon College are also tossing around the idea of adding new majors dealing with wind energy.  Dr. McDonald says green energy education will help students as they enter the job field.

"We want to take a fairly broad look at energy, renewable energy, sustainability, and leverage our expertise to bring that in to a coherent structure where the students can really benefit and have a leg up when they leave the program," he said.

The Engineering Department at MSU is also reaching out to other departments on campus.  For example, McDonald is working with a ceramics professor in the Fain Fine Arts Building to see how they can fire up their kilns without wasting too much heat  energy.

Larger schools are making the change to green, too.  The University of Houston has courses on carbon dating, and Rice University now offers a minor in water sustainability.

Spencer Blake, Newschannel 6.