Solar power

The American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation has made a $200,000 grant to the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana.

The award will be used to expand and improve the College’s Power Technologies program to include a certificate program in photovoltaic (PV) energy, and add a renewable energy lab yard that allows hands-on experience in solar, hydro, and wind technologies.

UAHT is in the process of applying for program approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

“The project goal is to implement high-quality credential programs and standards in renewable energy, energy professionals and practitioners, and energy industries,” said Chris Thomason, who was UAHT chancellor until a recent promotion.

Funds from the grant will be used to develop and implement a renewable energy lab that creates and enhances hands-on training and credentialing for a renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro) workforce across commercial, residential, industrial, and utility-scale renewable energy fields. “The college will develop and enhance curricula, identify career pathways that connect training to jobs, and expose students of all ages to careers in renewable energies,” Thomason said.

The renewable energy lab project will add a renewable energy training lab as a component to the college’s existing Power Technologies program. The educational model is patterned after Solar Energy International (SEI) programs. SEI works with organizations seeking the benefits of renewable energy. “UAHT plans to be the leader in industry training for renewable energy,” Thomason said.

The lab will be comprised primarily of photovoltaic equipment. Educational training in these areas will provide expertise throughout the United States to help power electric grids. Students will learn about diverse alternative energy technologies, including solar, electrical, wind, water, and energy storage. The lab training will help students prepare for an industry-recognized credential exam for direct entry into the renewable energies workforce.

In addition to solar, electrical, and energy storage, students will be introduced to turbine systems that can be installed and tested to demonstrate hydro and wind designs. Students will utilize replaceable equipment as they learn to design, create, and maintain the systems. The project will also introduce secondary students to the field of renewable energies through hands-on exposure to solar suitcases, wind turbines, and other portable types of renewable energy equipment.

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