In a ceremony hosted at Texas Tech, an agreement that allows Western Texas College students to transfer their coursework to Tech in order to receive a Bachelor of Science in wind energy was signed by representatives from both colleges.

The ceremony was hosted on Nov. 10.

The educational partnership is part of an administrative initiative to make Tech’s National Wind Institute the premier wind energy studies program in the United States and also included an agreement to last through 2018, Andy Swift, associate director of education for National Wind Institute, said.

“What’s interesting is that this isn’t the first agreement between the two schools,” Swift said. “A similar academic partnership was signed in 2012 that first allowed (Western Texas College) students to transfer their coursework towards a Bachelor of Science in wind energy at Texas Tech.”

The educational plan allows students who have earned an Associate of Arts degree in general studies-science at Western Texas College to transfer their coursework to Tech in order to earn a Bachelor of Science in wind energy. Tech’s relationship with Western Texas College has been integral to the growth of National Wind Institute’s wind energy education program, Swift said.

More than 180 students are now majoring in wind energy. The program has a job placement rate of 80 percent, and the United States’ renewable energy sector is steadily growing, Swift said.

“This is still a very young industry, which is why so many students are choosing wind energy as their major,” he said. “West Texas is a terrific place to study meteorology in general. There’s no shortage of wind here.”

Students at Western Texas College will also be able to transfer additional coursework, and Tech will accept both the transferrable core curriculum and other coursework within the Texas common course numbering system, Marina Gonzales, Western Texas College wind energy curriculum specialist, said.

Tech is home to the only bachelor’s degree in wind energy in the entire country, Gonzales said. Tech has aided Western Texas College in creating five wind energy courses at the community-college level, which were the equivalent of lower-division undergraduate courses in a bachelor’s degree.

“The new credit transfer program will serve as an affordable way for students to receive the bachelor’s (degree) they want from the only university in the country that offers it,” Gonzales, a Tech alumna, said. “The numerous academic partnerships between the two schools are a testament to their dedication to providing a quality education at the most affordable cost available.”

All of the wind energy courses at Western Texas College are offered both online and in the traditional classroom setting, according to the Western Texas College website. Employers will be looking to hire as many as 300,000 employees in the next 15 years.

Indeed, the demand for wind energy specialists from the renewable energy industry was one of the reasons why the academic partnership was formed between the two institutions, Gonzales said. Potential opportunities for employment include a career as a wind farm developer, wind project site manager and wind field operations manager, among others.

“We’re certainly excited to work with TTU,” Gonzales said. “Here at Western Texas (College), we’re incredibly excited to see how the program grows and develops in the future.”


By: Reece Nations 

Staff Writer