Over 500 attend Workforce Education for Renewable Energy conference
Submitted by Shawn Reeves
The third New Ideas in Educating a Workforce in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference took place November 18-20 in Albany, NY. Attendees came from North America, England, South Africa, Australia, and Germany.
The conference was organized by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Parnership for Environmental Technology Education, Hudson Valley Community College, and Lane Community College. The event's primary sponsor was the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Many attendees were educators at community colleges and technical schools; also attending were installers, trainers, K-12 teachers, and renewable energy business representatives.
In workshops and panels, leaders explained what they have been doing at their sites to help educate a workforce able to handle the burgeoning field of renewable energy.
In a plenary session, Lane Community College President Mary Spilde encouraged us to take advantage of inter-school networks in order to avoid "re-inventing the wheel," and noted that colleges are taking the lead by using sustainability practices at the same time as teaching about them. Daniel Lance, Global Training Leader of General Electric Renewables, listed the knowledge and skills he's looking for in a workforce: Basic understanding of AC/DC electricity, troubleshooting tools and equipment, reading one-line diagrams, basic hydraulics and torquing, basic information technology in the field with both networks and computers, and an ability to work at heights. GE's larger wind turbines (2-3MW capacity) are becoming some of the most standard equipment in US wind power.
In a session called "States Take the Lead," Jennifer Cleary from Rutgers University talked about handling federal stimulus funding. Adele Ferranti of NYSERDA, Beth Piggush of Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and Marybeth Campbell of Massachusetts Clean Energy Center discussed their respective states' structures for funding and managing energy and climate education. Ms. Ferranti also spoke of how NYSERDA is piloting building-analysis courses in secondary school.
In a session called "Developing Curriculum," Ian Baring-Gould from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory explained NREL's Wind for Schools program. Michael Arquin showed KidWind's new WindWise education curriculum. Ken Walz of Madison Area Technical College showed their program of bringing solar know-how to communities and students in Costa Rica. Jeff Stevens of Alfred State College shared tips about integrating a renewable program into a technical electric department and school. Dr. Pam Page Carpenter and Dr. William DeLuca of North Carolina State University showed their Solar House project and explained two new programs there:STEP, a future-transportation curriculum, and GRIDc, a data-rich environment for analyzing renewables and energy efficiency.
Dr. Barbara Martin, formerly of Florida Solar Energy Center, led a workshop where participants went through steps of developing a lesson/unit on individually chosen topics of energy for a particular audience, using the Analysis, Design, Development, Implentation, and Evaluation (ADDIE) model.
- KidWind Project, The : http://kidwind.org/
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) : http://www.nyserda.org/
- Interstate Renewable Energy Council : http://irecusa.org/
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory Education Programs : http://www.nrel.gov/education
- North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center at NC State : http://nccleantech.ncsu.edu/
- Massachusetts Clean Energy Center : http://www.masscec.com/