The Institute of Energy Conversion is a research facility with a strong emphasis on education and outreach. To that end, IEC offers both graduate and undergraduate research program, solar energy courses, and engages in community outreach. IEC regularly exhibits at community events, including the Philadelphia Science Festival, UD Brain-STEM Day, Newark Community Day, and UD Coast Day. IEC staff also accept invitations to lecture in classrooms or to civic groups.

Graduate Student Research and Education

Information for prospective graduate students who want to pursue solar-related research

Solar Energy Related Classes and Sustainable Energy Technology Minor

Our classes and minor program offer a unique opportunity to explore and engage with cutting-edge technologies that are shaping the future of energy.

Undergraduate Research Assistant Opportunities

A program for undergraduate students who can perform guided research for credit working with IEC professionals.

Community Outreach

Engaging with local communities to raise awareness, educate, and promote the adoption of solar energy is an integral part of our program.
Graduate Student Research and Education
The Institute of Energy Conversion is a research facility with a strong emphasis on graduate student training and education. Since 2010 we have provided training to over 55 Post docs, PhD and Master level students. Students can conduct their research at IEC under the guidance of one or more Professional Staff members using unique equipment and facilities available at IEC supplemented by other facilities on campus. The IEC does not directly accept graduate students nor do we award degrees. Prospective graduate students who want to pursue solar-related research at the IEC must apply to and be accepted by an academic department, typically within the College of Engineering (i.e. Chemical, Electrical, Materials Science) or College of Arts and Science (i.e. Physics, Chemistry):

Graduate students should indicate their interest in performing research at IEC on their application letter. Currently three IEC Staff have joint academic appointments allowing them to directly advise graduate students: Dr. Ujjwal Das (affiliated appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering and in Materials Science and Engineering), Dr. Steven Hegedus (joint appointment in Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Dr. William Shafarman (joint appointment in Materials Science and Engineering).  Students from other departments can be co-advised with a faculty from that department and any IEC staff member.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to IEC researchers first to discuss your interests and current funding opportunities. If you are unsure who to contact, please email Sherry Stewart at  Once accepted by the academic department that you apply to, your ability to work with researchers at the IEC will depend on availability of funding and the approval of IEC staff.
Interested students can get graduate school application materials from the University’s web site at

Solar Energy Related Classes and Sustainable Energy Technology Minor
Welcome to the exciting world of Solar Energy and Sustainable Energy Technology! Our classes and minor program offer a unique opportunity to explore and engage with cutting-edge technologies that are shaping the future of energy. In these courses, you will delve into the principles of solar energy, studying photovoltaic systems, solar thermal technologies, and sustainable energy practices.
Available Solar Energy Courses

ELEG 628 Solar Energy Technology and Applications (3 cr.)

This course will take the student from understanding the photovoltaic (PV) effect in a p-n junction solar cell all the way to the impact of gigawatts of power on our grid. Students will understand the critical issues in photovoltaic (PV) research, manufacturing, cost, performance, and deployment. We learn how to calculate how much energy is generated at a given location for different module configurations and how light leads to the generation of current and voltage in a solar cell. The design, processing and manufacturing of various PV cell and module technologies is covered in detail. Students will learn to design and analyze off-grid and grid-connected systems. Differences in the goals and economics of residential, commercial, and centralized PV power systems are discussed. The challenges of integrating increasing amounts of PV power on the grid is presented in terms of existing vs future grid configurations, and battery storage. The essential role of PV in creating the low carbon Smart Grid and the practicality and challenges of 100% renewable generation will be presented. Several practical design and analysis projects will reinforce concepts of PV system output, cost, performance, and utility rate structure.

The course is open to Engineering seniors and graduate students or others with permission. Taught by Professor Steven Hegedus.

Other classes which may include aspects of Solar Electricity

ELEG 437/637 – Energy Systems (3cr.)

Energy flows are examined in our society including all sources, conversions and conversion efficiencies, and end uses. Both existing and alternative energy sources are presented, especially with regard to total resource availability. Thermodynamics of conversion efficiency is covered, as well as efficiency measures available in end use.

ELEG 417/617 – The Smart Grid (3cr.)

As we become increasingly dependent upon electricity in our daily lives, there is a growing concern about the state of our electrical infrastructure. How do we maintain reliability and resiliency while increasing the fraction of renewable energy? How do we communicate with and control all the various new devices: EVs, solar and batteries, home energy systems?

This Smart Grid course addresses the modernization of the electric grid by looking for ways to make the grid smarter through the use of communications and information technologies, while trying to meet the overarching objectives of increasing grid reliability and resiliency, making the grid more secure, and integrating renewables and other new technologies into grid. Students in this course will learn the fundamentals of the Smart Grid and will examine and analyze Smart Grid technologies, architectures, and applications.

Building a smarter electric grid will cause major shifts in the way electric power gets delivered and used. These shifts have the potential to cause radical changes in the electricity sector in the same way that new technologies transformed the telecommunications sector. Students will learn about the many implementation challenges that utilities face as the Smart Grid evolves, including the transformational impacts of the Smart Grid on the industry.

ENEP 425/625 – Energy Policy and Administration (3cr.)

Analyzes energy use and energy policy with respect to politics, society, economics, political economy, technology, resources, and environment. Focuses on interrelationships among energy, environment, economy and equity (E4). It considers the energy policy options needed to achieve a more sustainable world.

ELEG 457/657 – Design and Operation of Renewable Energy Microgrids (3 cr)

A microgrid is a self-reliant electrical grid with multiple energy sources, storage and local control that can operate either connected to or disconnected from the conventional electric (macro) grid. Microgrids incorporate new technologies, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, Li-ion batteries, fuel cells, electric vehicles (EV), and energy management systems on scales from kilowatts to megawatts. In the event of a natural disaster or cyber-attack, microgrids are designed to provide their hosts with 100% reliable energy supply. Microgrids provide new transactional opportunities and equitable access to cleaner electricity. Forbes magazine listed microgrids as one of the top energy trends of 2019.

This course will cover the design and operation of reliable, economical microgrids integrating generation (photovoltaics, fuel cells, gas generators, and wind turbines), energy storage, sensing, communication, cybersecurity, and control. Concepts will be reinforced through the students’ use of industry standard HOMER Grid software tool for techno-economic analysis. We will include both case-studies of existing microgrids and student design projects using HOMER Grid. The course is co-taught by Professor Hegedus and Professor Lutz.

Sustainable Energy Technology Minor

Developing new energy sources that have minimal environmental and societal impact is one of the greatest challenges of our society. UD offers undergraduate students the option of taking a concentration in renewable energy technology in addition to their major. Students enrolling in this minor take 9 credits related to science and technology of energy such as wind, solar, biofuels, fuel cells, or smart grid integration. They also take 6 credits exploring the economics and policy dimensions of sustainability. Quantitative approaches are emphasized and include assessments of the local and global environmental and economic. impact of alternative energy sources. See link for details:
Undergraduate Research Assistants
IEC has an active educational program where undergraduate students from a range of departments can perform guided research for credit working with IEC professional staff members on research projects. Typically, this is done by registering for the course in their major with a title such as ‘Independent Research Project’. In recent years students from these departments have conducted research at IEC:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Materials Science & Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Physics & Astronomy

There are a variety of opportunities for undergraduate research sponsored by the University which IEC participates and specific details on the programs is available at In addition, IEC supports students working as paid interns for the summer and during the academic year.

Community Outreach
A pioneering force in the realm of energy exploration, the Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC), extends its influence far beyond the laboratory, actively participating in a spectrum of community events. From the spirited Philadelphia Science Festival to the insightful UD Brain-STEM Day, and the heartwarming Newark Community Day to the enlightening UD Coast Day, IEC’s presence is felt at the intersection of science and community. In addition to these vibrant events, discover how IEC’s dedicated staff enriches classrooms and civic groups through engaging lectures.
IEC at the Philadelphia Science Festival

Philadelphia Science Festival

The Philadelphia Science Festival is an annual free science festival held in Philadelphia and is organized and managed by the Franklin Institute.
UD Brain-STEM Day

UD Brain-STEM Day

IEC was a participant in Brain-STEM Day at UD, an interactive science festival organized by a group of neuroscience graduate students who founded the community outreach group Project Brain Light and by Nu Rho Psi, the national neuroscience honor society.
Newark Community Day

Newark Community Day

Newark Community Day is a longstanding event that involves Newark residents, the University of Delaware, Christina School District, and the City of Newark.