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The Most Promising Fields For Engineers To Find A Green Job

The Most Promising Fields For Engineers To Find A Green Job

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines a green job as one where the workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. As businesses continue to become more environmentally aware, there has been a surge for green engineering opportunities within the country. There are specific areas that are robust in terms of engineering jobs.

 

  • Geothermal Energy

 

In 2012, U.S. was the world’s leader in geothermal electricity production with about 3 gigawatts, 27% global capacity. Furthermore, geothermal energy capacity is expected to more than double by 2030 as developing economies begin to fully utilize their natural resources. Engineers are required to design geothermal plants or new drilling equipment, with some of them working in plants and offices or outdoors at construction sites. Depending on the systems used by a particular geothermal company, engineers in this field are usually required to be certified as competent to carry out specific work.

Table 1.1: Engineering Job Opportunities in Geothermal Energy

TYPE OF ENGINEER JOB OPPORTUNITY
Civil Engineer
  • Design geothermal plants and supervise the construction phase
  • Designing access roads that lead to the plants
  • Consider potential hazards such as earthquakes and build plants that can withstand them
Electrical Engineer
  • Design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of geothermal plants’ electrical components, including machinery controls, lighting and wiring, generators, communications systems, and electricity transmission systems
Electronics Engineer
  • Develop complex electronic systems that control the geothermal plant or signal processes
Environmental Engineer
  • Consider the site’s potential environmental impact
Mechanical Engineer
  • Research, design, develop and test tools as well as a variety of machines and mechanical devices
  • Supervise the manufacturing processes of drilling equipment or various generator or turbine components

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

  • Solar Power

 

United States added 3.3 gigawatts of solar power in 2012, greater than all of the solar power capacity added for the three previous years combined. The systems continue to gain popularity as technical advances make solar photovoltaic panels less expensive and thus more competitive with other energy sources.  Engineers in this field are required to apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems. They also use computers to produce and analyse systems, simulate and test solar energy systems. Engineers are in great demand within this field.

Table 2.1: Engineering Job Opportunities in Geothermal Energy

TYPE OF ENGINEER JOB OPPORTUNITY
Materials Engineer
  • Work with semiconductors, metals, plastics, glass, and composites to create new materials that meet electrical and chemical requirements of solar cells
  • Create and study materials at an atomic level, using advanced processes to replicate the characteristics of those materials and their components using computer modeling programs
Chemical Engineer
  • Design equipment and processes for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test methods of manufacturing solar cells, and supervise the production of solar cells
Electrical Engineer
  • Design the electrical circuitry of solar panels and supporting devices for panels, such as inverters and wiring systems
Industrial Engineer
  • Increase productivity through the management of people, the use of technology, and the improvement of production methods of solar cells or mirrors
  • Study the product requirements carefully and design manufacturing and information systems with the help of mathematical models
Mechanical Engineer
  • Work on the machines used in the manufacturing of solar panels
  • Design and test the electric generators and pumps that are used in concentrating solar power plants
Computer Software Engineer
  • Update, repair, expand and modifying existing programs
Engineering Technician
  • Build or set up equipment, prepare and conduct experiments, collect data, and calculate or record results
  • Help engineers to make prototypes of newly designed equipment or assist with computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) equipment

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

  • Green Construction

 

Defined as the practice of erecting buildings and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource efficient, green construction has risen up sharply in U.S. Rising energy and other commodity prices have made sustainable building more cost effective. The projected annual growth for green construction from the period 2012 to 2017 is 22.8%. Using new ideas and technologies, engineers in this field often have to be innovative and make their projects as environmentally friendly as possible.

Table 3.1: Engineering Job Opportunities in Green Construction

TYPE OF ENGINEER JOB OPPORTUNITY
Civil Engineer
  • Design and supervise the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems
  • Consider various factors, from the construction costs and expected lifetime of a project to government regulations and environmental hazards
  • Adopting green practices to ensure that the final product is environmentally friendly
Electrical Engineer
  • Develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment
  • Design the lighting systems of buildings
Mechanical Engineer
  • Work on power-producing machines, such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines
  • Work on machines that consume power, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material-handling systems, elevators and escalators, and industrial production equipment
  • Install systems to record and measure energy savings

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

  • Environmental Remediation

 

Environmental remediation is the removal of pollutants or contaminants in-order to protect the environment such as cleaning up an oil spill. This helps to restore contaminated resources to a level that is safe for living creatures. Engineers in this field devise technical solutions to clean up pollution and develop methods to increase safety. Employers in this field value practical experience, so many engineers start out assisting more senior engineers and take on more responsibility as they gain experience.

Table 4.1: Engineering Job Opportunities in Environmental Remediation

TYPE OF ENGINEER JOB OPPORTUNITY
Chemical Engineer
  • Apply the principles of chemistry, biology, and physics to develop remediation techniques
Environmental Engineer
  • Work to control pollution, clean up polluted areas, and monitor the progress of remediation projects
Health & Safety Engineer
  • Develop procedures and design systems to keep people from getting sick or injured and to keep property from being damaged
  • Combine knowledge of health or safety with systems engineering techniques to make sure that chemicals and other products are not harmful
  • Ensure that workers are safe from contaminants
Mining & Geological Engineer
  • Study the geology of the local area to determine the most effective techniques for remediating a particular area

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

  • Biofuels

 

Extracted from plant and animal sources, biofuels have gained popularity as the cost of gasoline has risen over the years. U.S. produces mainly biodiesel and ethanol fuel and will require 50 billion gallons of ethanol a year to replace 25% of the current U.S. gasoline use. Engineers are required to test various products and machinery to develop commercial applications and economic solutions. They should also possess problem solving skills as they will constantly be looking for new and improved ways to develop a product or a process.

Table 5.1: Engineering Job Opportunities in Biofuels

TYPE OF ENGINEER JOB OPPORTUNITY
Agricultural Engineer
  • Study existing and potential feed-stocks to determine which plants can be best used to produce fuel
  • Consider the best time of year for various feed-stocks to be grown and the best location to cultivate them, as well as the waste products that will be generated in their production
  • Design processing plants and other structures involved in storing and processing feed-stocks
Chemical Engineer
  • Design plant equipment
  • Establish various processes and protocols for manufacturing biofuels as well as the chemicals that are used to convert raw materials into fuel
Civil Engineer
  • Design and supervise the construction of biofuel processing plants
Electrical Engineer
  • Work with various motors, power generation equipment, lighting, or any electrical controls for industrial equipment that are needed for the plant to run
Environmental Engineers
  • Improve waste treatments and water systems, and to find ways to limit emissions from fuel processing
Industrial Engineer
  • Eliminate wastefulness in production processes
  • Determine the most efficient way to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make biofuels using a given feedstock or chemical process
Mechanical Engineer
  • Oversee installation, maintenance, and repair of equipment
  • Provide a plan for the layout of equipment at a new plant, or they provide suggested plans for implementing new equipment

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

  • Sustainability

 

Drawing in a wide array of professionals, sustainability seeks to improve an organization’s environmental, social, and economic impact. Engineers found in this field usually have work experience in fields that can be applied to sustainability programs. They devise technical solutions for reducing waste and cutting costs as well as develop methods to increase safety and to reduce the risk of illness and injury for a company’s employees. They are focused on the wise use of resources so as to not deplete them for future generations.

Table 6.1: Engineering Job Opportunities in Sustainability

TYPE OF ENGINEER JOB OPPORTUNITY
Chemical Engineer
  • Minimize the environmental impact of chemicals used by a company in production processes
Civil Engineer
  • Involved in green building and designing structures that will operate efficiently, reduce pollution, and decrease carbon output
  • Design water supply and sewage treatment facilities
Environmental Engineer
  • Involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues
Industrial Engineer
  • Determine the most effective ways to improve efficiency, and implement these strategies to make a company produce more with less.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

  • Wind Energy

 

Accounting for about 50% of U.S. renewable energy, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that wind capacity will increase by 6 percent this year to about 62.6 gigawatts. Engineers in this industry handle a range of responsibilities: designing and developing wind turbines, supervise production in factories, test manufactured products to maintain quality, and troubleshoot design or component problems, estimate the time and cost required to complete projects and look for ways to make production processes more efficient. The nature of engineers’ work depends largely on their specialties. While engineers can get into this field with a bachelor’s degree, employers prefer to hire engineers with 3–5 years of experience in their respective field and knowledge of commonly used systems and processes.

Table 6.1: Engineering Job Opportunities in Wind Energy

TYPE OF ENGINEER JOB OPPORTUNITY
Aerospace Engineer
  • Design, test, and supervise the manufacture of turbine blades and rotors
  • Conduct aerodynamics assessments
  • Involved in site selection, working closely with meteorologists to determine the optimal configuration of turbines at a wind farm site
Civil Engineer
  • Design and supervise the construction of many parts of wind farms, including roads, support buildings, and other structures such as the tower and foundation portions of the wind turbine
Electrical Engineer
  • Design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of turbines’ electrical components, including electric motors, machinery controls, lighting and wiring, generators, communications systems, and electricity transmission systems
Electronics Engineer
  • Responsible for the complex electronic systems that use electricity to control turbine systems or signal processes
Environmental Engineer
  • Deal with the potential environmental impacts of wind turbines such as noise, visual impact, the impact on local species, interference with radar and telecommunications, and electric and magnetic fields caused by electricity-generating equipment
Health & Safety Engineer
  • Identify and measure potential hazards of wind turbines
  • Implement systems that ensure safe manufacture and operation
Industrial Engineer
  • Determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors of production to make components of wind turbines
  • Study product requirements and design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements with the help of mathematical models
  • Aid in financial planning, cost analysis, and the design of production processes and control systems
Materials Engineer
  • Develop, process, and test materials used to construct wind turbines
Mechanical Engineer
  • Research, design, develop, and test tools and mechanical devices
  • Work on wind turbine components, wind turbine systems, or the machinery that is used to manufacture and test the turbines
  • Supervise manufacturing processes

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

About Samuel Kahara

Software Engineer , Proudly Kenyan , Man Utd Die Hard

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