All course information is listed within this syllabus.

ABE 589: Management and Design of Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (3 credits). The course consists of a semester-long group project in which students develop a successful project concept and design that addresses a selected RESS challenge. This could consist of, for example, developing a renewable energy project plan for a specific location and end user, or generating a full sustainability master plan for manufacturing operation. Specific project topics and scopes will vary from semester to semester. Topics related to scholarship integrity and professional ethics are reinforced as part of this course, as well as the other RESS competencies that are taught in the program. The educational focus of the RESS program is to teach "technical expertise with advanced project development skills" - this course is your opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned in those areas.


Instructor for ABE 589

Daniel Ciolkosz
Assistant Professor

222 Agricultural Engineering Building
University Park, PA 16802

Work: 814-863-3484

Office Hours (Forum): to be scheduled

I will do my best to respond to your e-mails within 24 hours, and I will let you know if I'm going to be unavailable for any length of time. It's best to use the Canvas Inbox to contact me.

Course Overview

The course consists of a semester-long group project in which students develop a successful project concept and design that addresses a selected RESS challenge. This could consist of, for example, developing a renewable energy project plan for a specific location and end user, or generating a full sustainability master plan for manufacturing operation. Specific project topics and scopes will vary from semester to semester. Topics related to scholarship integrity and professional ethics are reinforced as part of this course, as well as the other RESS competencies that are taught in the program. The educational focus of the RESS program is to teach "technical expertise with advanced project development skills" - this course is your opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned in those areas.

Course Outline

The course is divided into five "modules," each consisting of a content lesson related to the project and a milestone deadline for the development of the final project. Some lessons will have additional assignments that reinforce module topics. See the Assignment Summary within the Syllabus in Canvas for deadlines for project milestones and assignments.

Module Topics Project Milestone Other Assignments
1 Project Management, Team Dynamics, and Scholarship Project Ideas and Preferences, Team Selection, Select Project Director Teamwork Discussion, Cohesiveness and Trust Discussion, Ethics Essay
2 Project Definition and Working With Stakeholders Project Definition Statement, Define Team Roles, Stakeholder Interaction Plan
3 Preliminary Design Brainstorm Design Alternatives, Select Design, Preliminary Design and Feasibility Assessment
4 Technology Selection and Detailed Design Detailed Project Design
5 Presentation and Evaluation Peer and Self Evaluations, Final Written and Oral Report

Course Schedule

For due dates, refer to the Course Summary on the Syllabus page in Canvas.

Course Materials

There are no required textbooks beyond the online course notes. However, students will need access to readings and related materials from RESS courses that they have taken thus far.

Grading Policy

The turnaround time for graded assignments is generally one week or less, although grading your final project reports might be a little slower, depending on the size of the class. Grades will be given on a 0-100 percent scale, with percentages corresponding to the following letter grades:

Grading Scheme
Letter Grade Percentage
A 100% – 94%
A- < 94% – 90%
B+ < 90% – 87%
B < 87% – 83%
B- < 83% – 80%
C+ < 80% – 77%
C < 77% – 70%
D < 70% – 60%
F < 60%

There are several additional course requirements that do not reflect on your grade but must be completed in order to receive a grade.

First, you must complete the World Campus Academic Integrity Quiz during the first week of the semester.

In addition, you will be required to show evidence, by the end of the semester, of the following 17 skills/learning objectives, required of all RESS graduates.

  • Apply scientific principles to sustainability and renewable energy problems.
  • Analyze feasibility of renewable energy project sites and scenarios.
  • Carry out economic analysis within the context of sustainability.
  • Execute and evaluate sustainability or renewable energy systems using baseline, techno-economic, life cycle, or cost/benefit analyses.
  • Create and appraise renewable energy and sustainability case studies.
  • Conduct scenario planning and critique the degree of energy resource utilization of different renewable energy and sustainability systems options.
  • Apply and interpret relevant principles of managerial economics.
  • Demonstrate and evaluate cash flow analysis and engineering economics.
  • Demonstrate the ability to lead organizational change.
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively assume a leadership role.
  • Implement organizational skills within a project team environment.
  • Evaluate sustainability decisions in the broader context of society's interests.
  • Carry out successful renewable energy and/or sustainability systems operations in dynamic political, economic, and technological environments.
  • Apply systems thinking to RESS topics (energy, materials, water, habitat, economic, ethics).
  • Demonstrate the ability to make sound decisions in complex situations.
  • Demonstrate the ability to think creatively and regeneratively within the context of renewable energy and sustainability problems.
  • Organize and assess analytical, rational, and logical reasoning as applied to renewable energy and sustainability systems.

These 17 learning objectives will be evaluated in your assignments and final project report on a complete/incomplete basis. Failure to complete ANY of these objectives will result in assignment of an "Incomplete" grade for the course."

As per university policy, a minimum grade average of B for work done at the University is required for all graduate degrees.

The final grade for each student will be weighted based on the following algorithm:

  • Final written report 50% of final grade
  • Final oral report 20% of final grade
  • Participation in team 15% of final grade
  • Additional assignments 15% of final grade

Please refer to the University Grading Policy for Graduate Courses for additional information.

NOTE: If you are planning to graduate this semester, please communicate your intent to graduate to your instructor. This will alert your instructor to the need to submit your final grade in time to meet the published graduation deadlines. For more information about graduation policies and deadlines, please see "Graduation" under World Campus Student Resources.

Technical Requirements

This course is offered online and it assumed you possess the minimum system requirements and computing skills to participate effectively. A list of technical requirements is listed on the World Campus' Penn State Technical Requirements page.

Students will also need access to word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and similar project tools in order to complete the course.

A webcam or a headset with a microphone is required for this course. In addition, you will be required to use the following applications:

Minimum Skills

  • You should have an understanding of basic computer usage (creating folders/directories, switching between programs, formatting and backing up media, accessing the Internet).
  • You must be able to conduct word processing tasks such as creating, editing, saving, and retrieving documents.
  • You must be able to use a web browser to open web pages, download files, and search the Internet.
  • You must be able to use an e-mail program to send and receive messages and to attach and download documents/files.
  • You must be able to download and install programs or plug-ins from the Internet.

Accessibility Information

  • Accessibility statement for Canvas.
  • Accessibility statement for Zoom.


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and discussion postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of messages. Please review Virginia Shea's "The Core Rules of Netiquette" for general guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course.

Support Services

As a World Campus student, you have access to a variety of services and resources, including advising, tutoring, library services, career services, and more. Please visit the World Campus Student Services page for more information.

If you experience technology problems of any kind in Canvas, please select the Help icon and select "Report a Canvas Problem," "Chat with Support," or "Call Support." It is in your own best interest to be as specific as you possibly can. Vague descriptions of a problem only delay assistance. Try to include information such as: the specific course page, quiz question, etc. you were on; what you attempted to do when that failed; the exact language of any error message displayed on your screen; the date and time when your problem occurred; and any other pertinent information (does the problem happen consistently and always in the same way, etc.).

Online Students Use of the Library

As Penn State World Campus students, you have access to many of the materials that the library offers to students. The library website has a lot to offer, but can be overwhelming. A guide has been created to serve as your introduction to important library resources, services, and important pages within the library. The Online Student Library Guide is updated regularly by the online librarian and is intended to provide a level of comfort through an introduction to help you feel comfortable navigating the library website to find valuable information for your coursework.

Penn State Policies

Log-In Policy

Students are expected to log-in regularly to keep up-to-date with announcements, discussions, etc. The class will progress at a regular pace throughout the semester and there are specific due dates and times for assignments, etc.

Course Availability

Your course will be available to you beginning the first day of class for each semester and will remain open for one year. After one year the course will close.

Getting Help with Canvas Courses for Faculty, Students, and Staff

Canvas support is available 24/7 via chat or phone.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, students should act with personal integrity, respect other students' dignity, rights, and property, and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others (see Faculty Senate Policy 49-20 , G-9 Procedures and the Code of Conduct ).

Read the Academic Integrity Guidelines for the College of Agricultural Sciences

A lack of knowledge or understanding of the University's Academic Integrity policy and the types of actions it prohibits and/or requires does not excuse one from complying with the policy. Penn State and the College of Agricultural Sciences take violations of academic integrity very seriously. Faculty, alumni, staff and fellow students expect each student to uphold the University's standards of academic integrity both inside and outside of the classroom.

Educational Equity Statement

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity at the Report Bias webpage.

Privacy Policies

For information about Penn State's privacy statement and what it encompasses, please read their web privacy statement . Visit Penn State's FERPA Guidelines for Faculty and Staff webpage for information regarding its rules on governing the privacy of student educational records.

Copyright Notice

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor's express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University's Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well-being. The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients' cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 814-863-0395
  • Penn State Crisis Line (24 hours/7 days/week): 877-229-6400
  • Crisis Text Line (24 hours/7 days/week): Text LIONS to 741741
  • Mental Health Services

Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources Web site provides contact information for every Penn State campus . For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources Web site .

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation . If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus's disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations.

Accommodations for Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made.

Use of Trade Names

Where trade names are used, no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the World Campus, Outreach and Cooperative Extension, the College of Agricultural Sciences, or The Pennsylvania State University is implied.

Subject to Change Statement

Please note that this Course Syllabus is subject to change. Students are responsible for abiding by such changes.