According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two of the fastest-growing jobs in the United States are for technicians who can install, maintain and repair wind and solar equipment. Ozarks Technical Community College’s Alternative and Renewable Energy course in the Electrical Trades program trains students to work on wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy.
“The students love this class and hope to expand on what we do,” said Gary Lumley, electrical trades instructor. “It’s definitely hands-on, the students dug trenches, poured concrete, mounted solar panels and a wind turbine, and they monitor and maintain the whole system.”
Currently, the system involves a wind turbine, two photovoltaic solar panels and two batteries, which power four LED lights along the Ozark Greenways trail on the west end of the OTC Springfield Campus. Instructor Lumley will add two more solar cells, a vertical wind turbine and additional lights along the Greenways path the week of March 28.
“Alternative energy is becoming more popular in the U.S. for residential and commercial use,” Lumley said. “You’ll see solar panels on railroad crossings and traffic lighting, and those industries need people who can install and maintain those systems.”
Besides solar and wind power, the Alternative and Renewable Energy course introduces students to bioenergy, hydroelectricity, tidal power, wave energy, and geothermal energy. This semester, the class is popular (spring 2022), with more than 40 students enrolled in three different sections.
The alternative energy course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The morning class runs from 8-10:20 a.m., while the afternoon class is from 12:20-2:40 p.m.