Heartland Community College Program Profile

Program Name: Renewable Energy

Information Updated January 2018

Chris Miller, Heartland Community College Renewable Energy Program Lead Faculty Member

Lead Faculty

Christopher Miller is the lead faculty for the Renewable Energy Solar Program at Heartland Community College

Program Information

Date Started

2009 – “first class 2010”

Geographic Area of Students

Central Illinois

# of Students in Program

23 for 2016

# of Faculty Members Teaching Energy

1 Full-Time


Gender: Male 87%, Female 13%

Ethnicity: Caucasian 78.3%, African American 8.7%, American Indian 4.3%

Veterans: Unknown

*Data as of 2016

Degrees / Diplomas / Certificates Offered

The students can sit for the ETA-I PV Installer or NABCEP Associate Certification Exams

Introductory Course Information

Course Name

Introduction to Solar/Photovoltaics

Delivery Mode(s)


Course Duration

8 Weeks

# of Credits

3 Credits

Questions & Answers

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 have a small core group of local companies in the renewable / sustainable field. We have a small but nimble group of local employers that includes firms such as Straight Up Solar, Ruyle and Aero Tek. These organizations have been very helpful in getting students into the field.

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.

Ready to Learn more?

View the syllabus for Heartland Community College's Renewable Energy Concepts course, or visit Heartland directly for more information on their Renewable Energy program.

View Syllabus 🔒Visit Heartland