Moving forward by leaps and bounds….
LCC Prepares Students for a Future in Renewable Energy
Kelli Gaines, Title III Activity Director
In an unsure economy, it’s important to prepare for occupations where jobs are available. Currently, there’s a shortage of skilled labor in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. And many of these jobs are changing to require skills in renewable energy systems. This labor shortage will limit the growth of the renewable energy sector particularly in Colorado, as it is a significant leader in the renewable energy industry. The demand for trained technicians in these industries and the transferable skill set to jobs in other energy and construction occupations will give graduates of Lamar Community College’s new Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) Program a wide range of career options.
In 2008 LCC was awarded funding from the United States Department of Education to develop three new educational programs. With the Title III grant, LCC enhanced its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs in prior years and developed and launched a construction trades program that includes the popular welding certificate option and the historic preservation program. Renewable Energy Tech is the third and final program; classes started in the Fall 2012 semester.
LCC is the only two-year Colorado college to offer an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Renewable Energy Technologies degree. RET courses provide students with hands-on learning in laboratory and classroom settings and an opportunity for an internship. This intensive training gives students the skills and knowledge to enter the workforce quickly.
Colorado has some of the best scholars in the country to lead the renewable energy initiative. Did you know that Colorado is home to the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory (NREL), one of the leading Department of Energy facilities for renewable energy and energy efficiency research, development and deployment? This state-of-the-art institution attracts some of the best talent in the country and will help anchor the renewable economy in the state.
While definitions vary, renewable energy most often include solar and wind energy, as well as bio fuels. There’s growth in the solar energy industry; the U.S. solar power market grew by a record 67% in 2010, making it the country’s fastest-growing energy sector. And the Solar Energy Industries Association reports that Colorado is the fifth biggest solar market in the United States.
In the wind energy sector, Colorado ranks twelfth nationally in market share and employed about 6,000 people in wind energy jobs in 2010. For every 1,000 megawatts created from wind it is estimated to provide 3,000 new jobs in manufacturing, 700 in installation, and 600 in operations and maintenance. Colorado has also managed to attract major equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the wind energy industry.
With the growing demand for trained technicians in the renewable energy industry, Lamar Community College is helping students prepare for these occupations. In August 2012, LCC began offering courses in energy systems, design requirements, and installation techniques for these systems. These classes fulfill requirements toward the AAS in Renewable Energy Technologies (RET). This degree is designed for students interested in manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and repair of photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, solar thermal systems and biofuel equipment. I am particularly proud of the program of study, as about 80% of the RET Program’s competencies is transferable to other energy and construction careers, giving them job options for careers beyond renewable energy. Students will learn construction and welding techniques for energy systems, electrical and plumbing principles, and green building principles. They also take courses in Computer Aided Drafting, Power Theory, Wind Turbine Generation Systems, Energy Audit Techniques, and Solar Photovoltaic System Components.
Spring Semester courses, including Survey of Electronics and The Fundamentals of DC/AC, have already begun on. If you would like additional information, contact Kevin Forney at 336.6640 /firstname.lastname@example.org or myself at email@example.com. You may apply for admission and register for classes at www.lamarcc.edu.
Now is the time to take charge of your career in the hands-on, challenging field of renewable energy. A multi-dimensional program, LCC’s RET courses can prepare individuals for employment in other energy and construction/trades-related sectors as well.