WTC Teams Up With TTU In Wind Energy Program
The wind and West Texas…you can’t have one without the other. That’s why Texas is the premier spot for wind energy development in the United States. Western Texas Community College in Snyder, Texas is doing their part to prepare qualified workers in this industry through their Associate of Science Degree in Wind Energy.
The program, started in 2010, prepares students to go on for their undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University. From there, students have opportunities to pursue graduate and post-graduate studies and careers in the wind energy field.
The WTC Wind Energy program is led by Ed Ardizoni. A curriculum specialist with a background in renewable energy (solar and wind), Ardizoni came to WTC in 2011. “This is an exciting opportunity to provide an educational path for students into a maturing industry. Most colleges provide only a single graduate level course as an overlay onto a traditional degree program such as electrical or mechanical engineering. This program provides more information on wind energy extraction and can be a major or a minor degree topic for the student to apply to their life’s professional pursuits. Texas Tech also has post graduate opportunities for the students as well as international connections in the wind industry.”
Currently, Texas Tech offers the only wind energy undergraduate degree in the country. While there, students will complete a minimum of 400 hours of internship, either at a major wind energy company or at the International Texas Tech Center in Spain. Upon completion, students will find potential employment opportunities as Wind Project Developer, Director of Wind Development, Wind Field Operations Manager, Wind Project Site Manager, Renewables Account Representative, and Wind Power Forecaster/ Wind Resource Assessor. Says Ardizoni, “While these positions require 3-5 years of experience they all have entry level assistant positions. There are also positions for those desiring to become advocates for renewable energy within the political arena.”
While many states are utilizing wind energy, Texas leads the way. “As of 2013, sixteen of the fifty largest wind plants in the U.S. are in Texas. Thirty-one plants are one megawatt and up. With more than ten gigawatts, Texas ranks number one in the U.S. for wind energy production capacity with more capacity than the combined output of California, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, and Colorado.”
With regard to the growth and expansion of the wind industry, Ardizoni says, “With many plant expansions in the works and new plants planned for completion by 2015 the opportunities for graduates are bright. There are currently six leases in the Gulf of Mexico for off-shore wind plants. Texas has a ten mile jurisdiction and that provides a large area for off-shore production. In a scenario written by the DOE, if 20% of all U.S. electric power by 2030 is from wind, means that the U.S. will need about 300 gigawatts of wind power. That’s six times our current capacity. To attain that level will require 150,000 direct jobs in the wind industry”.