Instructor: Harlan Bengtson
Credit Hours: 4.00

Approval Number: Not Required

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Course Description

This course is intended for mechanical, electrical, chemical and energy engineers, and architects. It will also be of interest to any engineers wanting to learn more about the renewable energy field.

After completing this course, you will have basic knowledge about solar electromagnetic radiation, will be familiar with fundamental solar parameters, will be able to obtain or calculate values for those parameters and use them in calculations, and will be able to obtain values for average monthly rate of solar radiation striking the surface of a typical solar collector in the United States for a given month. You will also be prepared to take additional more specialized solar energy courses.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:
  • Calculate wavelength if given frequency and frequency if given wavelength for specified electromagnetic radiation.
  • Make calculations with the parameters, absorbance, reflectance and transmittance, as applied to a surface receiving electromagnetic radiation.
  • Place a given soil into one of the four SCS soil groups based on its measured minimum infiltration rate.
  • Obtain or calculate values for solar declination, solar hour angle, solar altitude angle, sunrise angle, and sunset angle and use them in calculations.
  • Obtain an estimated value for monthly averaged extraterrestrial radiation on a horizontal surface for a specified month and latitude between 20 and 65 degrees.
  • Obtain values for the average monthly rate of solar radiation striking the surface of a solar collector with one of several standard tilt angles at a specified location in the United States for a given month.
  • Retrieve solar radiation and meteorology data from any location in the world using the NASA/Langley website discussed in the course.

Instructor Bio

Dr. Bengtson is a graduate of Iowa State University with B.S. and M.S. degrees and of the University of Colorado with a PhD. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in Missouri. He has spent 30 years in engineering education in teaching and administrative positions, including six years as Dean of Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His areas of expertise are environmental engineering, hydrology and hydraulics, engineering science and renewable energy systems. He did consulting work while holding the academic positions. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Bengtson worked for Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing as a Product Development Engineer and for E. I. duPont deNemours as a Process Development Engineer. Dr. Bengtson has authored numerous publications, presentations and technical reports. He is currently active in providing continuing education opportunities for Professional Engineers and is the founder of and, sites with the objective of providing inexpensive, easy to use Excel spreadsheets for a variety of engineering calculations.

Other Approvals

National Professional Engineer board: Not Required