Monday, January 4, 2010

Wind Energy Training Comes in Many Forms

One of the important lessons I learned as a School Board Member is the need to provide a varied set of offerings for students.  Our philosophy in the school district of "All Means All" was applied at many times, most specifically when considering student options.  We truly believed that all students can learn, just in different ways and at different times.  This drove the creation of a wide variety of educational paths.

On August 8, 2009, I wrote about the grants that had been awarded to the University of Oregon and Oregon State University by Oregon BEST (Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center.)  Through these grants, BEST helped to established labs and research centers for the study of many aspects of solar electric technology.

This is a great enhancement for each of these schools, but let's keep the "All Means All" concept in mind.  Not every student is destined for a four-year college or university.  Not every student in the field of renewable energy is interested in solar technologies.

Enter Northwest Renewable Energy Institute, located in Vancouver, Washington.  They are a division of the International Air and Hospitality Academy, a 30 year old academy that began as training for the travel and hospitality industry and have expanded their offerings through the years.  Seeing the need for wind energy technicians, they have again expanded their offerings.

In a recent news release, academy founder Arch Miller indicated the growth in wind power workers is expected to reach 450,000 from the current 85,000.  This is expected in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's goal of wind becoming 20% of the nation's energy source by 2030.  A pre-schooler today will be graduating high school around 2030.  What a perfect time to have renewable energy options in our schools.

If you combine a substantial expected demand for workers, with today's salaries ranging from $36,000 to $68,000 depending on education and experience, you can see this is not a bad path for our K-12 students.  In contrast to the UO and OSU environment of higher education, the Northwest Renewable Energy Institute has a different set of requirements: at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED.

All really does mean all.

This is not meant to be an endorsement of the academy.  I do not know about their program beyond the basics discussed here.  Instead, it is simply an example of the varied options available to our students in the field of renewable energy.  They truly have options.  However, it is our responsibility to prepare them to exercise those options when they are ready.

What other educational options have you seen?  If you are a K-12 teacher, how are you preparing your students to exercise their options?


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