Energy Technician Education Summit

Photo Courtesy of the AACC

Photo Courtesy of the AACC

This week’s Episode of ATETV features the Segment “Gearing Up for the Energy Workforce.” So, it seems particularly timely that the broadcast coincides with the recent National Energy Technician Education Summit, which was held in Washington December 8-10.

Hosted by the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC) and the American Association of Community Colleges, the summit brought together representatives from the worlds of education, industry, and government to focus on the ways that community colleges can meet the current and future needs for technicians in the energy sector, an industry propelled by growing demands for alternative energies and a growing need to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

According to a story appearing on the website of the Community College Times, summit participants agreed that a combination of technical skills and “soft skills” are required for the job of energy technician. On the technical side, aptitudes in math, science, data analysis and mechanical and information technology were cited as necessary for the field. And employers at the summit agreed that they also seek employees who possess “soft” skills such as the ability to speak and write clearly, to solve problems, to work on a team, and to think critically.

As Daniel Lance, global training leader for GE Energy Renewables told the Community College Times, “Give me a technician that’s got a good, solid fundamental understanding of electrical theory, power generation, safety and some work experience [and] I can take that resource and teach [him] the specifics of the GE technology that they need.”

Another area of focus at the three-day long event was energy efficiency. As we heard from students and teachers at Sinclair Community College in this week’s Episode, energy efficiency measures begin one building at a time. But, with nearly 5 million commercial buildings in North America, these measures wind up having widespread environmental and economic impact — and create a significant demand for energy technicians who know how to efficiently operate building systems. As New York State Energy Research and Development Authority project manager Kimberlie Lenihan told the Community College Times, “We need whole-building thinkers.”

A summit summary will be posted at the ATEEC web site and the ATEEC will publish a full report on the National Energy Technician Summit next spring. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about alternative energy, energy efficiency and workforce trends for energy technicians, check out additional resources at the Community College Times.

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