Whether it’s the annoying news reporter or that obnoxious know-it-all in your Air Pollution class, people everywhere seem to be making up facts and statistics about our energy consumption. Does charging your phone from a laptop save more energy than if you were to charge it from a wall plug? Would using solar energy to power factories actually reduce air pollution?

Energy 101, a free online class offered by the Georgia Institute of Technology, sheds light on “the driving forces of energy used in transportation”, the production of energy-efficient products, and the process of converting renewable resources into a more desired form.

Dr. Sam Shelton, a veteran in energy systems, teaches the course. Aside from his multi-million dollar funded research and development, he is the founder of two companies that produce and market energy-efficient products. He was also a leading developer in the 1980s of the first commercial solar energy systems and investigated the efficiency of offshore wind farms.

The format of the Energy 101 is as simple as they come: over the span of nine weeks, lectures are taught in 5-12 minute videos. Quizzes are also given and upon finishing the program, students will receive a Certificate of Completion.

But what use is studying the complexities of thermodynamics to the average curious cat? For one thing, Dr. Shelton stresses the ‘no experience necessary’ aspect of the class. You don’t need to be able to understand physics or be able to use mathematical formulas to do well in the class. The information from this class can be put to use in a variety of settings from an elementary school classroom in Arkansas to sustainable farming training in Cambodia.

Understanding the truth about how we use energy and where it comes from will help dictate our policies on diverting our focus to the right alternatives.

Before even listening to one lecture, Dr. Shelton lets his potential students in on an unexpected secret, “Building nuclear, wind and solar energy systems does not save any oil in the U.S..” This only goes to illustrate the new and exciting information students of Energy 101 can look forward to learning that will enlighten them on the truth about energy consumption in the world.

– Deena Dulgerian