Here’s a nice story from Community College Times on how colleges in Michigan and Colorado are giving students an opportunity to train for the wind energy field at Laramie Community College in Wyoming. The reason for the cross-country partnership? Delta College (Michigan) and Pueblo Community College (Colorado) want to gather more information before starting full-fledged programs of their own.
The effect on community college educators was evident at the 16th National Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Principal Investigators Conference in October where every session on energy or the environment was filled. Many in attendance were gathering information to help their colleges decide whether to launch wind technology programs.
“It’s an immature industry. We’re not really sure how things are going to develop over the next several years,” Schmidt cautioned. He and his LCCC colleagues have been fielding lots of questions from colleges interested in beginning new programs.
LCCC created two wind energy degree programs with support from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) ATE program. The college has significant wind technology equipment and is near large wind farms.
Given the high start-up costs for wind energy programs, Schmidt said he thought LCCC’s resources could be more fully utilized to help other colleges.
This collaboration appears to be a good option, one that might catch on in other parts of the country. As we stressed in our recent green jobs op-ed, it’s important to stay demand-driven in creating training programs. Taking a wait-and-see approach (like Delta and Pueblo CC) is never a bad idea when large amounts of money and people’s futures are involved.