Archive for March, 2011

How Do You Grow A Green Workforce?

Friday, March 25th, 2011

How Do You Grow A Green Workforce?

Last year, the New York Times reported that “Green-collar jobs have grabbed the public’s attention, and educational institutions are starting programs to train the managers who will oversee the technologies, manufacturing processes and materials that will be used to conserve energy and help safeguard natural resources.”

Furthermore, according to the Times, community colleges have been leading the way in developing these green training programs. As Roger Ebbage, director of energy programs at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon noted in the article, graduates of the energy programs are now working in a wide variety of sectors throughout the country, including utility companies, engineering jobs, in school districts, cities and the military.

Today there are a multitude of both degree and certificate training options available in a wide variety of green specialties – from wind technology and solar cell design to energy audits and weatherization. Here are just a few examples of the ways that community colleges are preparing for the growth in green jobs:

*Besides being environmentally friendly, renewable energy sources are necessary to offset rising fuel costs. At Red Rocks Community College in Arvada, Colorado, the Renewable Energy Technology program offers degrees and certificates in a number of specialties, including Solar Photovoltaic; Solar Thermal; Wind Energy Technology; and Energy Efficiency (Energy Audit) certification.

*Michigan’s Lansing Community College was among the nation’s first schools to incorporate alternative energy into its curricula, offering an Associate’s Degree in Alternative Energy Engineering Technologies. Students enrolled in this program study wind, solar, geothermal, energy efficiency, and bio-mass/gas energy production systems to develop an understanding of the challenges and opportunities in developing a renewable energy economy.

*Meanwhile, the New England Institute of Technology in Warwick, Rhode Island, has “greened” its existing curriculum, , expanding its Heating Technology curriculum to include Solar Technology; adding Gray Water Technology and Rain Water Harvesting to the course offerings in its Plumbing Technology Program; and rolling out classes in Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Hybrid Vehicles in its Automotive Technology program.

*The College of DuPage in Ellyn, Illinois, has not only added a Renewable Energy Certificate to its Electronics Technology (including the installation of of two windmills and four solar panels on the roof of the school’s Technical Education Center), but has made an existing green program even greener by stressing eco-friendly trends in its Sustainable Landscapes Certificate program.

*The Green Technician Certification Program at Houston Community College is specifically geared to two new and emerging occupations – Weatherization Technicians and Energy Auditors, while the Sustainable Energy Technician degree program at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon emphasizes the growing fields of energy conservation and renwable energy production.

*And, even health care can be green. The Green Healthcare Training Program at Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma offers Certificate classes for health-care technicians in identifying environmental waste and understanding its impact, reducing the medical waste stream, reducing energy and water usage, as well as identifying and using available resources.

Know Your Farmer

Friday, March 18th, 2011


This week not only brings us more hours of daylight, warmer temperatures and the promise of spring, it’s the annual celebration of National Agriculture Day, which this year features the theme, “Your Food, Your Farmer.”

Farming is such an integral part of our lives, it can be easy to take farmers for granted. But try surviving without them: According to the American Farm Bureau, the average U.S. farmer is responsible for feeding 155 people each year. And that’s three times the amount produced per farmer 50 years ago.

The good news is that the past several years have witnessed a growing awareness of the food we eat — and where it comes from. For example, a resurgence in Farmers Markets, which now total more than 6,100 cross-country, bring locally produced fruits and vegetables, meats, cheese, flowers and breads to consumers in every state in the nation, and bring the community face-to-face with the people behind their agriculture.

At the same time, the Farm-to-School initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), gets kids involved in agriculture from an early age. The program uses classroom lessons, farm tours and even hands-on planting of community gardens as some of the many ways to help children understand how their food reaches their plates.

Meanwhile, the USDA website, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,” introduces all of us to the bountiful ways that farmers, large and small, make a difference in our lives, whether it’s by promoting healthy eating, protecting natural resources or strengthening rural communities and economies.

Check out the Agrowknowledge website for career ideas and educational resources in the farming and agricultural industries. They’re growing fields – literally and figuratively!

DNA Advances Mean Biotech Advances

Sunday, March 13th, 2011


It’s hard to believe but it was only 10 years ago last month that leading scientific journals published the results of the Human Genome Sequence, the encyclopedia of our genetic content.

(Backing up for a minute, genes — which number 30,000-plus — are made up of DNA, and DNA is the hereditary material that determines an organism’s distinct characteristics. Meanwhile, a genome sequence is the order of DNA bases in a genome — it’s something like a very long string of letters in a mysterious language.)

As this vast amount of new genetic information has become available, the field of medical Biotechnology — which we looked at in this week’s ATETV Episode — has kept pace. Here are some of the many ways that Biotech is using this new information:

Personalized medicine. Currently, the practice of medicine is based on standards of care that are determined by gathering information across large groups of people. Personalized medicine is a new concept that proposes to manage a patient’s disease based on the individual’s specific characteristics, including age, gender, height, weight, environment and genetics. Genetic advances is beginning to allow the development of genomic personalized medicine — medical care based on a patient’s genotype or gene profile.

Meanwhile, a specialty known as Pharmacogenomics takes advantage of the fact that individuals have unique genomes and works to identify specific drugs and doses to work optimally for each person. By understanding a person’s genetic makeup, a physician can better prescribe drugs and doses. Both Pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine rely on advances in DNA technology

Genetic testing. The Biotech industry continues to develop improved genetic tests, and the discovery of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was key. When a SNP occurs in a gene sequence that encodes for a specific protein, it might change that protein and cause disease or increase a person’s susceptablity to disease, making genetic tests more accurate.

Check out Bio-Link for more background on the Biotech field, and the medical career opportunities offered in this rapidly growing area!

Course Catalog: Laser and Photonics Technology

Sunday, March 6th, 2011


In this week’s Episode, ATETV talked with Andy Dawson, a student enrolled in the Laser and Photonics Technology program at Central Carolina Community College.

Photonics is an emerging technology that encompasses a number of exciting components (lasers, optics, LED”s and fiber optics, for example) that are widely used in today’s industries, from telecommunications and manufacturing to nanotechnology, biomedicine and homeland security.

According to the Central Carolina Community College website graduates of the school’s two-year Laser and Photonics Technology program might additionally pursue job opportunities in fiber optic communications, materials processing, and laser surgery facilities, with specific positions focused on product testing, field service, product development or sales.

Where to start?

As Andy Dawson told ATETV, math is an important part of the Laser and Photonics curriculum, with courses in Algebra/Trigonometry, Statistical Quality Control and Physics-Mechanics helping to form the program’s backbone.

But that’s only the beginning. Here’s a glimpse of some of the other areas that are part of the Lasers and Photonics course catalog:

Computers: The Introduction to Computers and Basic PC Literacy classes provide students with the fundamentals of hardware, software, and computer operations, as well as security issues.

Electronics: Beginning with the basics – soldering/desoldering, problem solving and operating test equipment – classes in Electronics cover semiconductor-based devices, Digital Electronics and Troubleshooting techniques.

Lasers and Photonics: With an emphasis on hands-on instruction, the Lasers and Photonics curriculum helps students immerse in the scientific properties of laser beams and optics technologies. Starting with the properties of light and overviews of optical theory and optical equipment, the Lasers and Photonics curriculum builds to cover the principles of Fiber Optics, and to introduce students to a variety of Photonics Applications, including materials processing, bar code scanning, surgical applications, optical data storage and optical computers.

Sound interesting? For more information on Laser and Optics Technology programs at community colleges around the country, check out OP-TEC, The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education.