New program preparing students for cleantech sector to begin fall 2019

June 05, 2018

A new Simon Fraser University applied sciences program to prepare students for the burgeoning cleantech energy sector has been approved and will be offered at the university’s newest building, currently under construction in Surrey.

The Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) program, the first of its kind in Western Canada, will feature an interdisciplinary learning environment that prepares students to work in high-demand sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable manufacturing, clean power generation, as well as in sustainable food and water solutions. 

SEE students will have access to brand new facilities, including state-of-the-art engineering labs housed in the new building (a LEED Certification Candidate) that is being built adjacent to the SFU Surrey campus and will open in 2019.

The program will build on SFU faculties’ expertise in areas such as fuel cell materials and technologies, alternative energy, ecological economies, and management of environmental resources. The program  will also foster technology entrepreneurship.

The Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS) has received provincial ministry approval to begin classes in the fall 2019 semester, with a capacity for 80 first-year and 40 second-year students. Applications will open in fall 2018 with options for internal and external transfers.

“SFU is hugely appreciative of the Province’s financial support for and approval of the SEE program,” says SFU President Andrew Petter. “This innovative new program will create exciting educational opportunities for students, while helping to position B.C. as a global leader in clean-tech and sustainable energy technologies.”

The program’s newly appointed director Kevin Oldknow, FAS associate dean, says the SEE program will uniquely combine courses from other disciplines, including the faculties of Science and Environment and the Beedie School of Business. It will incorporate foundational engineering principles, design practices, current technologies and economics, and policies associated with the global cleantech sector.

Kevin Oldknow, FAS associate dean and director of SFU's new Sustainable Energy Engineering (SEE) program.

“The program is unique in that its focus will be on sustainable energy systems, from beginning to end,” says Oldknow, whose 20 years of industrial experience includes a focus on cleantech solutions for transportation systems.

“The program aims to be immersive and experiential, with team-based projects and integrative design experiences woven throughout the curriculum," he adds.

“Co-op education opportunities and projects that are community based will fulfill the practical requirements but also broaden out a range of experiences that focus on sustainability within the community.”

Eugene Fiume, FAS dean, says the program’s design has been informed by industry and policy and by “what they are telling us are key areas in the decades to come. We are working with leaders in the clean tech sectors to ensure that our curriculum aligns with what is needed for students to be thought leaders ready to meet real-world challenges.”

In addition to co-op opportunities and community initiatives, students will prepare capstone projects,   designing and implementing sustainable energy solutions. They’ll also integrate business, social and economic models in sustainable engineering design. 

Students who begin their post-secondary studies in 2018 will have the option of transferring to the second year of SEE program studies in fall 2019.

The program will lead to a bachelor of applied science (BASc) degree, research and professional graduate degrees, and advanced research in sustainable energy.

For more information, visit www.sfu.ca/see


• SFU’s Surrey campus expansion was announced in November 2016 with a $126-million investment for a new building that includes $90 million in combined funding from the federal and provincial governments. The remainder is being raised through SFU and private donors. At the same time, a program to support the cleantech and sustainable energy sectors was also announced.

• Earlier this year (Jan. 2018), Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, announced 2,900 tech-related seats for B.C.’s post-secondary institutions, including 440 undergrad and graduate seats for SFU as part of its Surrey campus expansion.

• The ministry has now granted formal approval for the new program. 

• The first major step in expanding the Surrey campus beyond its home in the Central City complex, SFU’s focus on clean technology is the first phase of a three-phase academic expansion plan proposed for the Surrey campus. Future planning is focused on programs  in health systems innovation and creative technologies.