In my courses on Clean Energy Finance and Life Cycle Assessment, I often have individual students or small student teams conduct research and analysis for external entities. If you’re interested in having a team of students look at a decision, investment, or product for your business, please contact me: Joshua Skov, firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-729-4879
Here are some guidelines, and then some examples of these projects in recent years.
The main goal of the projects is simple: create a simple financial analysis and an accompanying narrative to inform a business decision. For the details, it’s worth considering project scoping, scale of the analysis, data availability, and fit with course material. In brief:
- Project scoping: The best projects are fairly well-defined at the outset, but may well still require some determination of scope. Don’t feel you have to have all of the details squared away ahead of time.
- Scale of the analysis: Ideally, the project is fully achievable in a 10-week academic term. That said, many student deliverables form the basis for future analysis.
- Data availability: Ideally, students don’t have to speculate about all of the key data points, and client organizations can provide key numbers. That said, it’s okay if there’s some research to do to generate educated guesses.
- Fit with course material: Clean energy and LCA are both big topics, and time constraints force me to focus on just a few key topics. As a result, the students are better prepared in certain areas. Still, I aim to make the courses good springboards for a wide range of business research, and in some cases I will add or expand topics to accommodate a particular team’s project context.
Project Examples from Recent Years
- Clean Energy Finance
- ROI and tax implications of a commercial-scale solar investment for a craft brewer
- ROI and tax implications of a commercial-scale solar investment for a food processor
- Financial and carbon payback for fleet vehicle investments for an Oregon municipal government
- Feasibility analysis of electric buses for a transit agency
- Solar Power-to-Gas (PtG) feasibility analysis for a natural gas utility
- Financing options for PV and microgrid for a hospital in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Residential solar feasibility analysis for individual homes in Arizona and California
- Life Cycle Assessment
- LCA of packaging options for a food processor manufacturing frozen desserts
- LCA of food packaging alternative for a university campus student union building (disposable packaging vs. reusable plates and flatware)
- LCA of distilled spirits from a food processing waste stream
- Literature review and scenario analysis of the carbon footprint of dairy products
- LCA of apparel items for clothing and outerwear brand
Most project deliverables are protected by an NDA, so I can’t share all of them here. That said, I can name a few of the partner companies from the recent past: