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Over the past decade, renewable energy has grown at a much faster pace than other industry sectors. This growth is the direct result of recent technological advances, government policy and regulatory reforms, and tremendous reductions in the cost of solar and wind equipment. As a result, the electric sector is now in the midst of a dramatic transformation from energy obtained by combustion of fossil fuels to clean renewable resources. Although many two-year colleges now offer coursework in renewable energy, the vast majority of these programs are new, having started in the years immediately following the Great Recession. Furthermore, most renewable energy instructors are still in the early stages of their teaching careers. Thus, academia is challenged to catch up to the renewable energy industry.
The CREATE Energy Center has grown from the collaboration of three previously funded NSF efforts: The CREATE regional center at College of the Canyons, the Consortium for Renewable Energy Technology at Madison Area Technical College, and Northwest Water and Energy Education Institute at Lane Community College. In recent years, the CREATE Energy Center has received additional funding from the National Science Foundation and has added partners at Indian River State College and Central Carolina Community College. The Principal Investigators and their respective institutions have a wealth of experience assisting other colleges and faculty members to establish energy education programs. By leveraging this collective knowledge and experience, the CREATE Energy Center will help others to develop, promote, grow, and advance robust academic programs to provide the energy industry with a skilled technical workforce.
The goal of the CREATE Center is to advance the field of renewable energy by supporting two-year college renewable energy programs. This goal will be accomplished through six key objectives:
Renewable energy provides technicians with good paying, family supporting jobs in STEM careers that cannot be easily exported, while also providing an economic lift to the communities where these individuals live. The CREATE Center will prepare a new generation of renewable energy educators and technical professionals. The ultimate results will be greater deployment of clean renewable energy, a more strategically designed distributed power infrastructure, greater resilience of our energy systems in the event of emergency or natural disaster, and a larger role for the United States as a global industry leader in renewable energy technology. Most importantly, by advancing the field of renewable energy, the CREATE Center will have far-reaching environmental and economic benefits as it helps to transform our country’s energy infrastructure while cleaning our atmosphere and providing Americans with low-cost, emission free energy.