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Workforce Development

A knowledgeable and well-trained workforce is essential to meet the Pacific Northwest’s renewable energy demands. AHB trained students at the technical college, four-year college, and masters level.

Two-Year College Programs



AHB worked to enhance rural prosperity in the Northwest through job creation and training. Safe, skilled, and motivated technicians and operators are in demand throughout the region’s agroforestry and industrial sectors. Through training from the Plant Operations applied associate degree program (AAAS) at Walla Walla Community College, students gained high-demand technical skills and knowledge directly applicable for employment in a wide range of jobs/careers involving Utilities, Pulp and Paper, Industrial Maintenance, Wastewater and Drinking Water Treatment, Engineering Contractors, Food Processors, Biofuels and Biochemicals, Solid Waste Management/Waste to Energy, Agriculture and Forestry, and Public Works.

Four-Year College Bioenergy Minor

In OSU’s Bioenergy Minor, students from a variety of disciplines learn to make a difference in the new Bioenergy Economy. Students from any major receive broad training and work in teams encompassing science, engineering, management, economics, social science, and education. Creative thinking, problem solving, and research experiences complement the technical training the students undertake.

Courses in the research-based Bioenergy Minor present central bioenergy concepts and issues while encouraging cross-disciplinary teamwork. Students receive invaluable professional training and experience through completing a 10-credit mentored research project of their choice, with participating faculty and/or industry partners.

The Bioenergy Minor gives students the tools to solve bioenergy problems in innovative ways. It prepares them for graduate school and careers with bioenergy knowledge and actual experience in research and writing, giving them a distinct advantage.

Masters Professional Program

To provide flexible, professional training that prepares graduate students to take on roles of responsibility in the bioenergy workforce, AHB worked with existing master’s degree programs in several bioenergy-related fields to enable students to obtain professional certificates as part of their education.

To complement the science, engineering, forestry, or agricultural education a graduate student might already be pursuing, the bioenergy professional certificate program also taught business and management skills. Upon completing the certificate training, students are prepared for professional careers with an understanding of the economic, social and political impacts of energy developments as well as strong leadership and business skills. This program piloted at Oregon State University (OSU) in Fall 2013.

AHB also supported the development of a Professional Science Masters (PSM) program in renewable energy. The Renewable Energy PSM program encompasses a bioenergy track and focal areas complementing existing graduate programs at OSU. Northwest renewable energy industries are contributing to the development of the PSM program, ensuring that graduating students are prepared to meet anticipated workforce needs. The program also brings together university researchers who are developing innovations in biofuels and bioenergy, wave energy, photovoltaic, and other related disciplines. Program graduates can expect to secure jobs in energy-related industries and local companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations, research and development laboratories, and consulting agencies.