Shoreline Community College Faculty Q & A

Lindsey Virdeh Shoreline Faculty Member

Lindsey Virdeh

Shoreline Community College Faculty Member in the Clean Energy Technology Program

What is it that makes you passionate/interested in energy?

Energy is how we live our lives. If we cannot make it sustainable for future generations, life as we know it will change drastically and future generations will experience the negative effects of a warming planet. With population increasing, we need to be more efficient by doing the same with less, and teaching this concept is critical to our future.

I enjoy working with our advisory committee to modify our program to keep it current with industry trends, and I enjoy teaching in-person classes and working with students to help them understand the material.

What was your journey?

I studied design and architecture and was about to take my exams to become a licensed architect and had an epiphany that going back to school to study urban and regional planning and environmental planning was more interesting. This led to a time in my career when I worked for a city and managed some aspects of several different programs, one of which was an attic insulation program for energy efficiency, and I really enjoyed working with homeowners to save on energy costs. I also worked at Skyline Community College, where I coordinated a sustainable campus initiative as well as worked with the community to find test houses for building energy audits. College programs and innovative thinking has always been interesting to me. I grew up in a house with a dad who was a professor of architecture, so I have come full circle, with clean energy as my focus. When I found out Shoreline Community College needed instructors, and then a program leader, I was happy to step in and fill the role.

How long have you been part of the program? What do you hope to accomplish through your program?

I joined Shoreline Community College and taught my first class in Fall Quarter 2018. I have been teaching ever since and moved into being the Clean Energy Technology advisor and program contact in November 2021, and officially as a pro-rata instructor in September 2022. I hope to bring this program back into a thriving program post-pandemic: Increasing enrollment, starting a career seminar class, giving students some form of program-supported work experience, updating our website, and modifying class offerings to meet industry needs.

What makes the program unique?

We use the Solar Energy International Curriculum to teach solar energy design and do this through night classes in a hybrid format. We have developed classes teaching energy modeling, so students graduate with skills to allow them to complete energy audits on commercial buildings, also through an online or hybrid course format. We have a 1-year certificate or a 2-year AAAS degree and while we have typically been a workforce development program, we are also recruiting high school students who have interest in learning the skills to graduate and enter the workforce in these areas.

What is the most rewarding part about teaching in this program?

Working with people from diverse backgrounds and supporting them through a class that is clearly outside of their comfort zone. And seeing students through the program who are looking to improve on their current skills, and hearing about how they got a job in the solar or energy industry because of their education in our program.

Advice for future students and/or people trying to work in this industry?

For students: You belong in this program, no matter your background. Ask questions and attend office hours. When you are having trouble, keep reaching out to people and someone will be there to help you. Make requests of your instructors and organize on your own to form student industry interest groups with instructor support. Seek out your passion and follow it.

For working professionals: You belong in this industry, there is a job for everyone. If one aspect of the work does not interest you, ask questions and find an area that works for you and where you experience passion. Get involved in professional industry organizations to keep your knowledge current and attend networking events.

Anything additional you would like to add?

It is an honor to work with the CREATE Center and I look forward to working with the NSF on future projects.