Skyline offers courses in green technology

Skyline students learn to install and maintain solar arrays like the one in this picture. (Curtosey of Omer B. Thompson)

Skyline students learn to install and maintain solar arrays like the one in this picture. (Curtosey of Omer B. Thompson)

Skyline is in the process of rolling out new classes that will help students get certified to work with environmentally friendly technology.

The first two courses and the name of the program, Environmental Science and Technology, have been approved, although the rest of the program is still under development.

The program aims to introduce Skyline students to working with green technology to keep them at the cutting edge of a job market that’s quickly shifting towards going green, and to offer them opportunities to get involved in emerging fields.

‘We’ve created a program that can not only have Environmental Science and Technology courses for transfer or GE,” said Mike Williamson, Dean of Science/Math/Technology at Skyline, “but underneath this term can have a whole array of courses.”

The program was able to get started when Skyline received a grant from the State Community College Chancellor’s Office to, among other things, fund a program to train students in the installation of solar panels.

This grant opened up the opportunity to start offering a regular course.

“We’ve had excellent support,” Williamson said. “We’ve had great faculty and even employer support.”

According to Williamson, companies like Solar City and Borrego Solar have sent people to help train students in the use of solar energy.

The first course available, ELEC 410, is an introduction to solar installation and integration. Students will be learning about the design and installation of solar electric systems.

It has had a large amount of interest since the Fall 08 semester when it was started. The class was filled very quickly, and the wait list of 20 people was also full by the time the class started.

The course is offered on Fridays from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM starting March 13 and ending May 8. According to Omer Thompson, the course instructor, this semester’s class is already full, as is the wait list of around 30 people.

The program has recently received another grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, which Williamson says will allow for more courses to open up more quickly, which will stop people from getting stuck on a wait list and get them into an actual class.

“We could be able to offer new courses as early as Fall,” Williamson said.

In the planning stages are a course on solar thermal applications and a course on sales and marketing of solar technology, which are currently being organized and designed.

“I want to see this grow into a solid set of course offerings,” said Thompson.

Thompson feels strongly that this program is a big step in the right direction for Skyline.

“We’re in the middle of an environmental mess,” Thompson said. “We need to change, and [Skyline is] going to do what we can to make that change.”

Thompson pointed out how much of our fossil fuels are being burned just to create electricity, which he feels is a waste. He says that the economic crisis, however unfortunate, is giving us a second chance to think about our methods of power generation and how they affect the environment.

“We’ll give you the skills, we’ll give you the tools,” Thompson said. “It’s time to wake up and become environmentally responsible.”