The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Lab have teamed up to develop the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education which combines energy science and engineering. Students will also take courses in related disciplines that their field will likely intersect. The goal is to educate and train future leaders armed to tackle domestic energy problems.

Students may chose to study nuclear energy, environmental and climate science, bioenergy and biofuels, renewable energy, energy conversion and storage, distributed energy and grid management, neutron science and computational science. They will also have to take courses in management, economics, R&D as well as broader technology and engineering coursework in order to prepare them for future job opportunities.

“More and more of the technology, the policy, the economics of energy-related things are going to dominate more and more careers of students,” says Lee Riedinger, physics professor and director of the center, in a recent interview with

Thirty-eight faculty from UT and ORNL will lead the program. Students can also take advantage of the program’s emphasis on entrepreneurship. Riedinger is encouraging students that are interested to start their own companies as part of their educational experience at UT.

“It may mean the students will just take a course or maybe some courses for business administration or they may want to dabble with working with their professor at UT or Oak Ridge and use the fruits of their R&D to set up a small company. We’re not sure how that will go,” he said.