For more than a generation, people have assumed the use of petroleum as the basis for meeting society’s energy needs. Not only have petroleum products been essential for fuels but most commonly used products also include petroleum-based chemicals.

“Moving to the use of biofuels has many implications and involves new ways of thinking about energy and products,’’ says Steven Hollenhorst, professor and dean of the Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University.


  1. Meet the workforce needs of the bio-energy/bioproducts economy
  2. Develop a broad, integrated view of the biofuels problem among emerging scientists and engineers
  3. Enhance communication skills of scientists and engineers so that they can better engage society in their work
  4. Develop the next generation of energy leaders for industry, government, and the civic sector
  5. Improve biofuels literacy of teachers educating our future citizens
  6. Strengthen overall science literacy of students in areas particular to the biofuels

“People are going to need to make decisions along the whole supply chain — from the resource to the airports,’’ said Hollenhorst. “Our job is to engage citizens and help people understand how they’re going to fit into this new energy economy.’’

Educating and Training the Future Bioenergy Workforce:

  • Undergraduate education: The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program at Washington State University allows undergraduate students to work with faculty and graduate students on research projects related to bioenergy and biofuels. Students complete a 10-week internship and receive experience, a stipend and housing assistance.
  • Find out more about working in the SURE program
  • Graduate Education: The IDX program combines graduate students from the University of Idaho and Washington State University. These students work with “regional clients” to develop supply chain analyses for a potential wood residual to chemical products industry. In addition, the University of Washington’s IGERT program will train graduate students on bio-resource based energy projects. This program has a strong collaboration with Columbia River Basin tribes and promotes graduate education with tribal members.
  • Review supply chain analysis work completed by the IDX and IGERT students and mentors
  • View IDX presentations on YouTube