Fellowship in Cambridge

Professor's overseas sabbatical an opportunity to teach Rowan students sustainable design.

It may seem counterintuitive, but a sabbatical at one of the world’s oldest universities may be an ideal way to study some of the world’s newest technologies.

Dr. Peter Jansson, a Rowan professor of electrical and computer engineering, earned his Ph. D. from Cambridge University in 2003 and returned last year for a fellowship at prestigious Clare Hall College.

Dr. Jansson, a big believer in the Rowan approach to hands-on learning, said the sabbatical provided a dual opportunity: to prepare documentation of his research for presentation across Europe and to teach Rowan students sustainable design.

During his 15 months abroad, Dr. Jansson presented papers in Switzerland, Morocco, the Netherlands and Ireland in such areas as smart grid technology, emerging energy sources and universal climate change.

“The main reason for the fellowship was to publish a lot of the work I’ve been studying for nine years,” Dr. Jansson said. “But this was also a great opportunity for our students. As a teacher, you’re always trying to give students who learn in different ways better access to the information.”

He noted that students in Rowan’s highly-regarded Engineering program must all take clinics – medical school-style labs in which they solve real-world problems through the application of engineering theory and technique.

“Engineering students are particularly focused on things they can see and touch and work with,” Dr. Jansson said. “We kind of take it for granted because that’s the way we do it at Rowan but when I was an undergrad at MIT it was all chalk and talk.”

Dr. Jansson, who in 2010-11 has led clinic programs for freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, said it made sense, when the opportunity for his own sabbatical abroad developed, to offer overseas study to his students, too.

“For three weeks I taught a course in sustainable design to Rowan students in London,” he said.

“Immersed in sustainable design”

He said 24 Rowan students – most of whom had never been abroad - enrolled in the course, a study-travel hybrid in which they viewed state-of-the-art engineering against a backdrop of old English countryside, villages, and the city of London itself.

“The main reason we took them was to explore a city working toward becoming a leader in green design,”Dr. Jansson said. “There are many, many sustainability projects in London. There are off-shore wind turbines in the Thames Estuary that are very similar to a project being planned for the coast of New Jersey.”

Combining culture and engineering, students saw the world-famous Thames and studied kinetic wind power. They visited Stonehenge and Buckingham Palace but tracked the energy used to get there.

“The idea was to familiarize them with their own carbon footprint and give them an immersible experience in sustainable design,” Dr. Jansson said.

Senior Fred Powell of Williamstown said it was a great trip, just the right blend of education and tourism.

“England is maybe five to six years ahead of the U.S. technologically,” said Powell, 21, an electrical and computer engineering major. “Seeing where we can go in the future was interesting.”

Junior Chris Sipos of Columbus was impressed by both the old and the new but not surprised by the British embrace of technology.

“Seeing it all – like wind turbines in the English Channel – was great,” said Sipos, 21, a chemical engineering major. “It’s definitely inspired me to look beyond New Jersey in terms of what I can do.”


Dr. Peter Mark Jansson

University of Cambridge, Ph.D., (July 2003)
Rowan University, M.Sc.Eng., (May 1997)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, B.Sc.C.Eng., (June 1978)

January 2001 to present:
  Associate Professor – Electrical and Computer Engineering

Specializations: sustainable design; electric power systems; advanced power systems, networks and circuits; engineering electromagnetics; senior engineering frontiers course, freshman and sophomore engineering clinics as well as special junior/senior clinic projects in photovoltaic system design, wind resource assessment, environmental design, energy auditing and lighting analysis; life cycle assessment tools, utility strategic planning, streetlight asset management. Ongoing research in Mach’s Principle and new electric generation technologies.

Industry experience: Atlantic Energy, 1979-1998 (various positions, from junior engineer to president of new division, Atlantic Energy International.)

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