Sunday, January 17, 2010
Gresham Grows Energy Expertise
Germany based Centrosolar Group AG has announced plans to open its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Gresham. Although details on the plant's size, project timing or number of jobs isn't known quite yet, it spells good news for the future of our area.
The question of course for Energication is how we ensure a symbiotic relationship, benefiting Centrosolar for their decision, but what are the positive implications for our students? In a number of Energication posts, I have discussed the growing momentum and focus on renewable energy in post-secondary education, specifically at the University or Oregon and Oregon State University. Now, there's another link in the chain for our students.
Chicken or the Egg?
One school of thought is "industry won't locate here if we don't have a quality and appropriate educational experience to feed them with qualified workers." Another is "why should we focus on a particular area of industry if none of it exists here?"
Small Steps Make a Difference
In the perspectives brought to bear in Energication, it shows that small steps are making a difference - and they become cumulative. For example, the Portland region is becoming known for being the hub for renewable energy. The governor is working hard to position the State of Oregon with a positive "solar climate." Gresham has a mayor that "gets it." Oregon and OSU are exploiting grants for renewable energy research facilities. Now, Centrosolar has announced it is coming to the area.
See the momentum? How can we fuel it further?
Aligning our science and technology curriculum to not only acknowledge, but embrace renewable energy will help to establish the next "chicken or egg." Companies are beginning to see the area as one of value. Let's use that as a way to promote a more precise focus on the curriculum that will help our students prepare. This isn't a commentary on preparing for college or the workforce. No, it is a commentary on preparation. Period. Providing exposure to the kinds of things our students will experience in the future is the right strategy. We don't know what the future will hold, but we must prepare them for the environment in which the future will unfold. Refining our science curriculum to include alternative fuel technologies is an excellent first step.