August 01, 2011
From February through July 2011, the South Central Regional Training Provider (RTP) at Houston Community College, organized a series of Solar Open Houses at nine locations in six states. The South Central RTP is one of nine regional resource and training providers in the U.S. using innovative approaches, like the Solar Open House, to help train solar instructors in select educational institutions in its region.
Launched in 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy established the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), composed of nine Regional Training Providers (RTPs) to help fulfill a critical need for high-quality, local, and accessible training in solar system design, installation, sales, and inspection through train-the-trainer programs. The nine RTPs are well-established solar training institutions that offer expert trainers and first-class training facilities across the U.S.
As National Administrator for the SITN, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) works closely with the RTPs, facilitating and supporting the creation of a well-trained, highly-qualified solar energy workforce of sufficient size and diversity to meet the projected needs of this country.
“Through the South Central RTP, we show how solar energy can be integrated with other types of energy to offer savings and lead to economic recovery,” said Tammu Obey-Monroe, Project Director for the South Central RTP. "By bringing together educational and industry partners along with the community increases opportunities for networking, highlighting technological advances, and learning about training needs, we're hoping that the Solar Open Houses will eventually lead to solar job creation,” she said.
According to Obey-Monroe, informing the public about solar technology and offering free training classes provides a great opportunity to increase solar training capacity and ensure high quality training throughout the South-Central region. All nine South Central RTP partner schools were required to host a Solar Open House on their campus.
Here are the partners in the South Central RTP, and when their 2011 Solar Open Houses were held:
“We put the Solar Open House idea on a fast track, all within a six month period,” said Obey. “There were more than 40 professional speakers, with some 50 (on average) attending each of the nine Open Houses.”
According to Obey, a diverse group attended the Solar Open Houses, including state representatives, contractors, electricians, manufacturers, workforce agencies, green thinkers, and the general public. Each school coordinated its own event. Some featured tours of their facilities which included energy efficient homes built by instructors and students and tours of mobile training units. Workshops geared toward renewable energy (mainly solar PV and solar heating and cooling technologies), vendor exhibits and interactive solar displays by solar industry leaders were also on the agenda.
ImagineSolar, solar training organization in Austin, Texas, was a sponsor for the Austin Youth Works (AYW) Solar Open House. “It was one of the best turnouts," said Mary Leonard, Executive Administrator for ImagineSolar. "The students at AYW were extremely energetic and excited about showing off their work.”
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