On June 3rd the 38th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference (PVSC) opened in Austin with Austin Solar Day. The purpose of Austin Solar Day event was to raise public awareness of solar energy and its potential impact on the Austin community. The event included exhibitors, a Speaker’s Corner and eight area high school groups who had entered the IEEE High School PV Competition.
The winning team from Taylor High School, the B.L.A.D.E., received the 1st place award for converting a 1999 GMC Safari van into an Alternative Energy Vehicle, AEV. Judges said the quality of all the projects was so strong that they had a hard time deciding winners consequently they named two 2nd place winners and two 3rd place winners. Overall everyone was a winner who participated in the solar engineering challenge!
Several members of Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) played prominent roles in Austin Solar Day including: Board member B.J. Stanbery, CEO HelioVolt who officiated as Conference General Chair while Austin Energy, HelioVolt, ImagineSolar, and Pflugerville Community Development Corporation constituted four of the five top-level sponsors of Austin Solar Day. The second level of sponsors included TREIA itself and members SolarBridge and Solar Community. All were present as exhibitors, along with members Hill Country EcoBuilders (Hill Country EcoPower), Lighthouse Solar and TXSES who also exhibited.
"Texas is home to one of the sunniest climates in the U.S. and is ripe with opportunities for home and business owners to alleviate electricity costs through renewable energy. Although interest in 'going solar' is growing in the Austin area, many residents are unsure of where to begin the process," said B.J. Stanbery, Conference General Chair for the 38th IEEE PVSC. "Austin Solar Day offered an unparalleled opportunity for our community to learn about solar energy from the people who know it best. We're excited to share our expertise with our neighbors and to showcase the solar innovations of Austin's young PV scientists."
Michael Kuhn, CEO at ImagineSolar was one of the speakers at Austin Solar Day. Kuhn talked about what is happening in the solar and smart grid industries, what is creating their growth, and what career opportunities are available now. He gave an overview of several solar career pathways - including component production, system design, marketing/sales/permitting, and installation and operations. He also spoke about diverse career opportunities being created as the smart grid is implemented across the nation.
“The solar and smart grid industries are launching an expanding wave of new technologies and business models that are disruptive to the traditional energy industry," said Kuhn. "There is a need for specialized training and continuing education to stay on top of this wave. Career opportunities in this field are available to everyone including engineers, electricians, entrepreneurs, and other professionals.”
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