Shell oil company is giving £500,000 to fund a chair in sustainable development in energy at Imperial College London as part of its sustainable energy strategy.
Michael Warner, head of the department of earth science and engineering at Imperial, said: "Traditionally in engineering the concept of sustainability has not been taught. Forward-looking companies are now demanding this.
Universities have to train their present and future engineers in sustainability.
"Consumers are much more aware of environmental issues, third-world countries are more careful about who they choose as energy partners and regulators are much more interested in what companies are doing."
The move is part of a broader partnership between Shell and Imperial aimed at stimulating research, teaching and public awareness of sustainable development in the energy sector.
The research will include geothermal energy, bio-remediation, sustainable use of the subsurface, migration to the hydrogen economy and carbon dioxide sequestration.
John Perkins, principal of the faculty of engineering at Imperial, said:
"Imperial College is committed to bringing engineers and scientists together with industrial partners to find and develop energy solutions addressing major social, economic and environmental concerns."
Clive Mather, chairman of Shell UK Limited, said: "Partnerships such as this are great for business and for academia. They not only improve the two-way flow of information, but also provide a platform for new thinking and initiatives."
Shell already funds the Shell Chair of Petroleum Geology, held by Howard Johnson at Imperial. Six graduates from Imperial joined Shell companies in 2002.