Wind Technician Academy to be the first in the nationPublished 8:55am Thursday, August 27, 2009
KALAMAZOO – While visiting M-TEC at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Groves Campus Wednesday afternoon, Cass County’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, joined President Marilyn Schlack to announce that he was successful in securing $350,000 for the institution’s landmark Wind Turbine Technician Academy.
KVCC, a national leader in wind energy, is launching this fall the first-in-the-nation Wind Turbine Technician Academy to train the coming generation of wind energy technicians.
Upton secured the funding in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education spending bill, H.R. 3293, which recently passed the House.
The measure is expected to be considered by the Senate in September.
“As the famous Bob Dylan song goes, the answer is blowing in the wind, and KVCC and southwest Michigan are at the forefront in the development of wind energy that will create jobs here at home,” said Upton. “This funding will help KVCC develop the curriculum necessary to train local residents to fill the jobs that will be created as we harness the power of the wind.
‘I commend Marilyn Schlack and her colleagues at KVCC for their leadership in creating the landmark Wind Turbine Technician Academy. The potential for renewable wind energy in southwest Michigan is great – not only for our local energy supply, but for our local economy as well.”
The training uses established curriculum based on globally recognized BZEE utility grade turbine technician standards, which is the first BZEE certification program in the United States, and will include training on a decommissioned utility grade turbine in a lab on campus.
The Wind Turbine Technician Academy can be completed in less than six months, making the program viable for retraining of workers and for the training of the next generation workforce.
The program will provide graduates with multi-craft credentials, which are highly sought after by the wind power industry for the construction, operation and maintenance of utility-size wind turbines.
“Michigan, the only state completely inside the Great Lakes Water Basin and virtually surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, is poised to be a national leader as the United States moves toward a comprehensive, alternative-energy portfolio,” said Schlack. “The winds of change are blowing stronger and stronger in this energy-producing field and KVCC – with its one-year certificate for training wind technicians, the Wind Energy Center’s international academy to produce workers for the giant wind farms around the world and a new eight-credit course in which students will design, fabricate and assemble a wind turbine – is also emerging as a player on the state and national scene.
“This one-time investment in what KVCC is attempting to accomplish in wind energy by the federal government for equipment, facilities and tools will assure the training of a highly skilled wind-energy workforce at an affordable price. That’s a win for our community, our state and our nation, and it surely is a win for our students.”
Among the chief instructional tools will be the 145-foot, 50-kilowatt, commercial-sized wind turbine that towers over the college’s technical wing on the Texas Township Campus and a 1.8-kilowatt model that is designed for residential purposes.
A wind-turbine lab in the M-TEC will also be part of the learning equation.
Through courses in applied electricity, electrical machines, programmable logic controllers, fluid power, the operations, maintenance and repair of wind turbines, the mechanical systems in these turbines, and the generation and distribution of power, students will be introduced to the technical standards in the industry.
The Wind Turbine Technician Academy will consist of three integrated segments: Pre-Employment Electrical Apprenticeship, Wind Turbine Technology Education and Field Experience.
Michigan ranks 14th in terms of wind energy potential, but is currently well behind other states in terms of installed wind generating capacity.
This summer, KVCC also hosted two summer camp sessions in late July and early August for kids ages 12 to 16 to foster their interest in wind energy.
Upton, a strong supporter of wind energy and top Republican of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, firmly believes that as we seek to reduce our emissions and expand our domestic energy supply, renewable sources of energy must be a significant part of the “all of the above” approach.