2009 – “first class 2010”
23 for 2016
Gender: Male 87%, Female 13%
Ethnicity: Caucasian 78.3%, African American 8.7%, American Indian 4.3%
*Data as of 2016
The students can sit for the ETA-I PV Installer or NABCEP Associate Certification Exams
Introduction to Solar/Photovoltaics
There is a student built outdoor training structure to perform installations. In the indoor lab, there are two 8’x8’ training structures that are used in the classroom. During the class, we install both string and microinverter systems.
When we developed the program in 2009 we decided on providing fundamental understanding of renewable and sustainable technologies. Our focus is on entry-level skills to help students enter the photovoltaic installer / solar technical sales career path, the building automation / sustainability career path, and the wind turbine technician career path. Central Illinois has great employment opportunities working with a wide variety of renewable and sustainable energy technologies. We want to produce graduates that will be successful in most of the areas. Another strength, as a smaller program, is that we have good communication with local employers and are well known to local industry.
We offer internships. However, it can be challenging, and the student typically has to have some personal initiative to help make it go.
The school has had a difficult time tracking students after they graduate to get an accurate assessment of placement rates. We do not have a very reliable measure of how many actually go directly into solar careers. Anecdotally, we do know of at least 5 students that are currently employed in our local solar industry. The most recent is Dustin Fox. He is now at Underwriters Laboratory (UL) working as a solar technician.
The solar education world at the college level is a small group of dedicated programs and individuals making it happen. Over the years working with Joel
Shoemaker at Madison College, we have taken students to Belize to install solar. It has provided great opportunities for service learning, and is a strong resume booster for the students.