Solar Thermal Instructor Training & Community Outreach (Spring 2010)
In February, 2009, Alexandria Technical & Community College (ATCC), in partnership with Solar Skies Manufacturing, LLC, was awarded a $170,000 grant through the Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace (MNREM). The purpose of this grant was to provide solar thermal skills training to approximately 40 individuals throughout the State of Minnesota. Linda Muchow, Alexandria Technical & Community College Customized Training Center and Kurt Koegel, Solar Skies Manufacturing, LLC, worked together to developed a Solar Thermal Train the Trainer session and a Solar Thermal Participant session. In addition to developing the training modules, they also designed and built three hands on solar thermal trainers with the help of the Carpentry Department and the Center for Applied Mechatronics at ATCC. The three trainers include a controls trainer, a roofing trainer, and a piping trainer.
The initial Train the Trainer session took place in April, 2010 with three participant sessions following in May,2010. Century College hosted an event in White Bear Lake, Central Lakes College hosted an event in Brainerd, while two events were held at Alexandria Technical & Community College. Participants in attendance included Minnesota State Colleges and Universities faculty, plumbers, engineers, architects, HVAC technicians, and individuals seeking to enter the Solar Industry. Linda Muchow, ATCC, acted as the primary project manager, while Kurt Koegel, Solar Skies Manufacturing, LLC, and Jason Edens, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance provided their expertise through course development and instruction.
The grant project also made it possible to purchase equipment that enhanced the trainings and allowed students to experience the actual equipment and materials used during a solar thermal product installation. Students were able to use a Solar Pathfinder and perform an actual solar site assessment. They were then able to use a computer based program (Solar Pathfinder Assistant) to generate a Site Analysis Report to determine the viability of the solar energy solution.
In summary, this grant project successfully developed and delivered multiple levels of solar thermal training focused on developing solar thermal instructors and creating training modules for consumers, designers, engineers, and trades people. This project has created a training system that will disseminate solar thermal knowledge to serve industry and education personnel across the entire State of Minnesota.
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