As a new concept called "clean tech"--alternative energy, more efficient power distribution, and new ways to store electricity, all with minimal impact to the environment--gains footing in the business world, schools and colleges are joining the wave by creating programs that give students real-world training and job possibilities.

Despite last fall's financial meltdown, public and private investments in clean tech are pouring in, fueling startups and reinvigorating established companies. If it takes off, clean tech could seep into every part of the economy and our lives.

Some of the biggest booms first blossomed during recessions. The telephone and phonograph were developed during...

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