Owens trains solar installers for high-tech jobsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Owens Community College continues to offer the region’s only photovoltaic installation training program. The one-week, noncredit program teaches people how to install, maintain and repair solar energy systems for commercial and residential use.
The most recent class trained 30 students with the next class scheduled May 11 to 15. Owens has increased its offering of the class because of the demand.
“Owens’ Photovoltaic Installation Training program provides students with innovative and cutting-edge instruction within the emerging field of environmental technology,” said Michael Bankey, vice president of Workforce and Community Services at Owens.
Students who complete the Photovoltaic Installation Training program qualify to test for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioner PV Entry Level Certificate of Knowledge.
With additional work experience, students may qualify to take the national certification test to become a photovoltaic system installer.
“Individuals participating in the course learn that solar power is not just a concept, but a reality in creating a sustainable energy future for Northwest Ohio and the country,” Bankey said.
The students in the recent program came from as far as California and ranged in age from college students to men in their 40s and 50s working in other fields.
Gary Dashner of Holland is a journeyman painter laid off from the GM Powertrain plant in Toledo. He served an apprenticeship in machine repair at Owens.
“If I don’t get called back to work at GM, it could be a job of the future in a booming industry,” Dashner said.
Gary Bolin of California came to learn about emerging technologies and applications in the solar energy field.
Bolin supervises projects where solar energy is used as alternative power for security lighting independent of the existing electrical power grid. Solar energy is being used to power street lights with LED- lighting for military bases, parking lots, schools, shopping centers and emergency phones on freeways and college campuses, Bolin said.
“Teaching is evolving with technology. Owens is reaching out to make this latest technology available to private and professional community to learn about it,” he said.
Matt Donbek of Perrysburg took the program because he is interested in working as a solar installer or in manufacturing for a company like First Solar in his hometown.
Two brothers, Jeff and Patrick Lokey, participated in the program because they are interested in new energy-saving technologies. Jeff is a computer software analyst from Detroit, and Patrick is a chef from Columbus.
Course content includes system sizing and construction, codes and standards, battery and interconnection safety, as well as troubleshooting and maintenance. Installation practices related to adapting mechanical and electrical design and system commissioning are demonstrated.
The hands-on course includes design and installation of a grid-tied photovoltaic system and continued maintenance on an existing system at the Workforce and Community Services building.
In fact, the recent class helped disassemble the photo array that is being moved to a site on the main campus at Owens, said Joe Peschel, programmer for customized training in Workforce and Community Services.
The class also visited the largest solar field in Northwest Ohio located at the Air National Guard Field on Eber Road, near Toledo Express Airport.
Advanced Distributed Generation of Toledo (ADG), one of the leading photovoltaic systems integrators, is working on the expansion of the solar field for the Air National Guard. ADG has hired several graduates of the photovoltaic training program at Owens.
For more information or to register for the course, call (567) 661-7357.