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green IT degrees: coming soon to a school near you

Green jobs have been a cornerstone of the stimulus program, although what we hear most of with regards to those funds are building efficiency retrofits or renewable energy installation training programs rather than more IT-specific programs. Earlier this summer, our own Sarah Terry-Cobo wrote about one of those programs:

On June 29, [California] Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced $20 million in grants to 11 regional pilot projects as a part of the state-wide Green Job Corps program, which was launched in March.

"We are working around the clock to bring Recovery Act funding into California as quickly, effectively and responsibly as possible to stimulate our economy," said Governor Schwarzenegger in a prepared statement.

"Using Recovery funds and public-private partnerships, the California Green Jobs Corps will help 1,500 at-risk young adults realize a brighter future while stimulating our economy and working toward a greener California."

Funding for the program will include career training in: energy efficiency, solar power, green construction, and alternative automotive fuel, among other things, the Governor's office reports. In addition to job training, there will be a community service component, as well as civic education and environmental stewardship, said a representative with California Volunteers, the lead agency in charge of overseeing the California Green Jobs Corps.

The stimulus funding comes from Recovery Act Workforce Investment Act funds, of which 15 percent is part of the Governor's discretionary fund and was prioritized for the creation of the job corps program, said Jairo Moncada, communications manager with California Volunteers.

In the world of IT, there's plenty of potential for advancement for folks who know their way around green issues. As my colleague Preston Gralla writes today, the Chief Green Officer job -- the next big c-suite gig opening up in companies around the world, in his prediction -- is one that IT professionals are ideally suited for.

And funds are also starting to flow toward university programs aimed at high-skill, high-tech training programs as well. According to a new article in Data Center Journal (which I've polished up a little bit to make more readable):

To keep up with the trend schools and Universities are developing programs to meet the demand and changing market. The University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering will offer a new green technology degree this fall.

The degree in green technology will focus on creating solutions to global demands for energy and energy efficiency problems.

Community colleges around the country are also tapping into the green curriculum field that they hope will draw students. The Obama administration's stimulus package has put aside funding to encourage more campuses to create interesting and versatile green technology programs.

Under the U.S. Department of Energy's State Energy Program monies are available for states to promote energy efficiency education. Alternative and renewable energy will receive $67 billion in funding, with 500,000 new jobs projected in renewable wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal endeavors, smart grid creation and energy efficiency initiatives.

So where to begin? Well, as with almost any type of work, we suggest that you start by looking at how to make your current job greener: if you're an IT professional, start reading up on how to manage the low-hanging fruit of green IT, whether that's PC power management, virtualization or re-engineering your data center for optimal efficiency.

If you're currently between jobs, take a look at our library of resources -- books, reports, tools and more -- and get up to speed on the topic. And start digging around your local college or university to see if they offer extension courses in IT energy efficiency; in doing a little Googling looking for certification or degree programs in green IT (there aren't that many out there yet...), I was reminded of Cisco's Net Academy, which includes among its different education tracks a paper entitled "Educating Tomorrow's Green IT Workforce." The report, which you can download from GreenerComputing, lays out why green IT is growing in importance, as well as case studies of schools that are helping students get out ahead of the green wave in IT.

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