Joel Swisher has been hired as director of Western Washington University’s Institute for Energy Studies.
“Dr. Swisher brings a wealth of insight and experience in the energy field to Western. He is the right person to build on the outstanding foundation we have in the Institute for Energy Studies. His work in private industry, the Rocky Mountain Institute, and Stanford University all will inform our next steps to help students in this critical field,” said Brian Burton, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Western.
Swisher, who starts at Western on Nov. 3, was hired following a national search. He succeeds Institute for Energy Studies founding director Andy Bunn, associate professor of Environmental Science at Western.
“I want to thank Andy Bunn for taking the lead in developing the Institute and the energy curriculum. His energy, enthusiasm, and expertise have been and will continue to be important in the Institute’s work,” Burton said.
Swisher has a doctorate in Energy and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. He is a registered professional engineer and speaks five languages. He is now consulting associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford, where he teaches graduate-level courses on greenhouse gas mitigation and electric utility planning methods. His current research addresses the integration of plug-in vehicles with renewable energy sources in the power grid.
“I am eager to help WWU build an exciting new interdisciplinary energy program and Institute for Energy Studies,” Swisher said. “I think Western can really differentiate this energy program, assume a regional and national leadership role, and enable graduates to jump right into employment or entrepreneurship in the energy field.”
Swisher also is an independent consultant with over 30 years of experience in research and consulting on many aspects of clean energy technology. He has consulted with numerous utilities, manufacturers and technology companies on electric utility resource planning, energy efficiency technology and business models, carbon offsets and climate change mitigation.
He was formerly director of technical services at Camco International, a carbon offset developer, and managing director of research and consulting at Rocky Mountain Institute, where he led RMI’s consulting team in work for numerous high-profile clients, including electric utilities and producers of goods ranging from semiconductor chips to potato chips. At RMI, he led a team that convened an industrial consortium (including Alcoa, Johnson Controls, Google, etc.) to develop a new, lightweight, plug-in hybrid vehicle platform for truck fleet applications.
He is author of over 100 professional publications including “The New Business Climate: A Guide to Lower Carbon Emissions and Better Business Performance” and a bilingual (English and Portuguese) textbook on energy efficiency and integrated energy resource planning.
The Institute for Energy Studies at Western was established in response to the growing demand for education and training related to the technology, policy and business aspects of human production and use of energy. To meet this critical need, the Institute is developing interdisciplinary programs that combine the fields of science, technology and engineering with economics, business management, public policy, and sustainability.