• WisBusiness

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

GreenBiz: Lakeshore Tech a leader in wind tech ed

By Gregg Hoffmann
Not many students go to class 100 feet or more in the air, but those enrolled in the Lakeshore Technical College Wind Energy Associate Degree program do just that.

Practical experience in installing, maintaining and even rescuing people is gained on a wind turbine that was installed on the Cleveland, Wisconsin, campus in 2004. Students also do internships with a variety of commercial wind turbine companies around the country.

More turbines are in the pipeline for LTC, which, as of August 2008, was one of eight schools training people in wind energy technology in the country.

The LTC program is four semesters and a summer internship long. It currently has almost 40 students and the class for fall 2010 has a waiting list. "It has really mushroomed in the last 18 months or so," said Doug Lindsey, dean of trade and industry, agriculture, and apprenticeship. "When we first started working in the area in 2003, we could not find a market.

"We put the turbine up in part to produce some of our own energy on campus (an estimated 3 percent of the campus electrical energy needs) and as a demo site. But, things have changed."

The story about how it changed, and how LTC has carved out a niche in the fastest growing segment of renewable energy production, is an interesting one. "We had a student, Velvet Sommers, who had taken a couple of our courses while she was still at Lincoln High School in Manitowoc," Lindsey said. "She had some credits to burn and wanted to go up in the turbine to learn about it.

"We basically built a course for Velvet, and this 98-pound student in red pants went up the turbine with a crew. The local newspaper did a story, it was picked up by AP and the phones have been ringing off the hook ever since."

Wind energy also was a natural for LTC, which is a good place in the state for wind, not far from Lake Michigan. Three wind farms are located within a relatively few miles of the campus. So, a school that ranks 13th in total enrollment of the 16 technical schools in Wisconsin suddenly found itself in demand.

The school also had strong electrical and other program, so it wasn't a big transition to turbines. "I tell people that a wind turbine basically is a jet plane on a stick," Lindsey said. "We were already teaching some of the things that could be adapted to turbines."

Industrial leaders and groups have rallied to the LTC program. "We've had great partners from the industry," Lindsey said. "Without them, we could not have built what we have so far."

Focus on Energy provided a grant for construction of the turbine. WE Energies has helped with grants and the two entities also have combined for assistance in a photovoltaic solar project that also has started in campus.

In 2005, LTC received the Innovation Award from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council for the wind energy demonstration site.

A large Danish wind company, Vestas, GE and other companies have assisted in taking students as interns, with equipment donations and in other ways.

Jenny Heinzen serves as lead instructor for the program and has been an innovator since its beginning. A student-teacher ratio of 6 to 1 has been maintained so far in the program.

The LTC web site tells students they will learn to install, test, service and repair wind turbine components, troubleshoot and maintain control systems, learn climbing safety practices. Courses range from an introduction to wind systems course to industrial codes, troubleshooting and frequency drive procedures.

Associate degree graduates can prepare for careers as wind turbine technicians, mechanics and tower climbers, installation technicians, operation and maintenance technicians and wind farm maintenance managers.

Lindsey said additional standards are being developed for wind energy training by the American Wind Energy Association. Some LTC practices are used as models for establishing those standards.

U.S and Canadian commercial wind farms have been growing at 25 percent annually. That has created an intense demand for LTC graduates and others trained upper-level technicians.

Solar power should create the next intense demand, Lindsey projected. Then, small wind power systems -- which could be used in condominium complexes, retail developments and other industries -- could be the next wave.

LTC hopes to continue its reputation as a leader in education on emerging energy systems by expanding into these areas.

"As an institution of higher learning, we have a responsibility -- to our students, to the region and to ourselves -- to develop strategies which will allow LTC to make its contribution to environmental awareness and change," Lindsey said.

-- Hoffmann has written many columns and features for WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com over the years. He will write the GreenBiz column monthly.


Comments: 2

At April 18, 2016 at 1:36 AM, Blogger Peter Luna said...

It is good to read about the LTC program conducted by your institution. I have heard about the course.But i don't know the details.And thank you for your description.
best essay writing service

At December 10, 2016 at 3:57 AM, Blogger addirigib said...



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