The laboratory is part of Hudson Valley's new photovoltaic installation courses that began this semester, thanks to a $148,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The courses, included in the college's Electrical Construction and Maintenance program curriculum, train students to install and maintain photovoltaic systems. Click here for a fact sheet
Twelve of Hudson Valley's top second-year, Electrical Construction and Maintenance students are now taking the first of the college's two sequential courses in photovoltaic installation. Upon finishing the second course, students will take the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners-issued exam, which will gain them a Photovoltaic Entry-Level Certificate of Knowledge.
"Having this background will make students that much more employable," said Joseph Sarubbi, chairman of the Electrical Construction and Maintenance Department at Hudson Valley. "Because our students already have the foundation, they're able to jump right into photovoltaic installation."
Added Hudson Valley President Andrew J. Matonak, Ed.D.: "Hudson Valley Community College is committed to offering programs that meet the needs of our students, business and industry in Tech Valley.
"We are proud to partner with NYSERDA to offer this cutting-edge training, the demand for which will only grow as the cost of traditional energy sources continues to skyrocket and more people embrace this source of renewable energy," he added.
NYSERDA contacted Hudson Valley about a competitive solicitation, ultimately awarding HVCC a grant so the college could develop the courses and train instructors in this growing field, known informally as "PV."
"Students at Hudson Valley Community College have an opportunity to take part in a hands-on PV training program that will prepare them for a career in the growing renewable-energy field," Authority President Peter R. Smith said. "NYSERDA's partnership with Hudson Valley Community College is designed to help the college obtain national accreditation and certification for its PV training program and instructors."
"I am pleased NYSERDA is partnering with Hudson Valley Community College and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners to help strengthen the infrastructure for PV training and installation in New York State," Smith added.
Certified photovoltaic instructors are essential to the growth of solar energy, and certification reassures consumers that installers have achieved high standards in training and ethical conduct, according to Pete Sheehan, executive director of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, a volunteer board of renewable energy stakeholder representatives.
"Hudson Valley has tapped into the market for students yearning for more knowledge about renewable energy systems, specifically PV systems that create clean energy," he said. "They should be commended for their foresight and leadership."
According to Sheehan, the photovoltaic industry has steadily grown in recent years, due in large part to state subsidies: in 2003, for example, shipments of photovoltaic units increased worldwide by 32 percent. NYSERDA also offers cash incentives for homeowners who have photovoltaic systems installed through eligible installers, and promotes certified installers, listing them on its Web site and publications.
Jane Weissman, executive director of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, an independent, non-profit group that accredits training and certifies instructors, praised Hudson Valley's initiative as an example of how "New York has taken the lead in the United States by supporting the building of a local and qualified workforce for the solar and renewable energy trades."
"Hudson Valley Community College is doing it right. They are offering solar energy training that is based on defined workplace knowledge and skills and are appropriately addressing issues of safety and codes," Weissman said.
Locally, some labor unions and trade groups already offer photovoltaic training, but Sarubbi said Hudson Valley's reputation as an established educational facility offers a unique advantage.
"Because Hudson Valley is already an accredited educational institution with well recognized technology programs, it meets and exceeds many of the necessary requirements to become an accredited training institute for photovoltaic training," he added.
The college plans to build upon these two courses, creating a certificate program in photovoltaic installation that could be offered as soon as next fall. Ultimately, NYSERDA and college officials would like Hudson Valley to become a nationally accredited training center with certified instructors," Sarubbi said.
Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 60 degree and certificate programs in four schools: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and workforce and academic preparation programs offered through the Educational Opportunity Center. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 12,000 students, and it is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining. Hudson Valley has more than 60,000 alumni.