Are you a recent college graduate looking to jump-start your career? Bioenergy is a dynamic and emerging field, and whether you majored in engineering or English, science or political science, business or biology, there are numerous possibilities to use your skills and education in the industry. See examples below of how people have put their degrees to work in the bioenergy field.
Many fields of study can lead to a career in the bioenergy industry. (Image courtesy of BCS, Incorporated.)
Business & Marketing
Bioenergy is an emerging new industry, and it needs start-ups, small businesses, and innovative entrepreneurs to get it off the ground. The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) helps to fund integrated biorefineries at private companies such as Abengoa, POET, and Haldor Topsoe. You could be a business analyst, marketing and sales specialist, or manager of business operations at a bioenergy plant or other private business along the bioenergy supply chain.
Biology & Chemistry, Math & Engineering
Staying on the cutting edge of new scientific research was one of the things that attracted Dan Fishman and Leslie Pezzullo to their jobs as BETO technology managers. Fishman studied environmental science and developed a mathematical model of microalgae populations. Now he is on the forefront of newly developing processes in BETO’s Algae Program, such as converting algae to bio-oil in 60 seconds. Pezzullo studied chemical engineering and manages the development of a variety of biochemical technologies within the Biochemical Conversion Program. Scientists and engineers like Fishman and Pezzullo are essential to research centers, the national laboratories, and bioenergy companies.
Information Technology & Computer Science
Researchers, policymakers, and private industry need computer programmers and designers to create online tools and databases. For example, the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), developed by programmers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, allows researchers to contribute and analyze data using maps and other online tools. Computer programmers are needed across the industry wherever digital resources are developed.
Political Science & Public Policy
The U.S. federal government works across agencies to coordinate research and development activities to grow the bioenergy industry. Ashley Rose, a BETO consultant, uses her dual degrees in political economy and law, along with political science-American politics, to help facilitate interagency government work in renewable fuels through the Biomass Research and Development Board. Supporting the Board, she is able to foster the collaboration of bioenergy research in the Energy Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other agencies. Other career opportunities with these focuses are available with the government, national laboratories, and policy organizations.
English & Communications
National laboratories, for-profit biofuel companies, and non-profit bioenergy organizations need professional communications staff to help provide outreach and messaging to stakeholders and the public. BETO communications specialist Leslie Ovard thought she had to choose in college between her love for English and her love for environmental science policy, but now both have merged together in her position at BETO. In a technical field such as bioenergy, Ovard says that skilled communicators with technical knowledge are especially valuable.
Whether your degree is in science or liberal arts, whether you want to work at a national laboratory or for-profit company, there is a place for you in the bioenergy industry. Find out more about how the industry comes together with many different professions when industry leaders and experts come together for BETO’s Biomass 2014: Growing the Future Bioeconomy, July 29–30, 2014, in Washington, D.C. Follow conference coverage on the Bioenergy KDF Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and join in the conversation with our conference hashtag: #Biomass2014.