Beginning in Spring 2014, Kankakee Community college has been able to expand their Solar PV Technology program with new online educational videos, additional certifications, and new equipment. The Introduction to Solar Photo-Voltaic Technology is a part of the Renewable Energy Track within the AAS degree in Electrical Technology There have been successful changes to the program since the 2014 funding began. The Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s ANSI-IREC accredited Photovoltaic Site Assessment certification was added to the course. This allows students to have the skills, upon completion of program, to evaluate energy consumption as well as solar resources in households or businesses. By having this additional skill, they will help potential clients understand the system options and benefits. They could also recommend the site and size of the solar systems. Site assessors also estimate system production and then identify cost to the customer. This certificate establishes an entry-level competency that is valuable to employers in the renewable energy field.
Safety equipment was added for student’s on-site assessments out in the field as well as in class equipment for the lab, and new gear for student work on the Capstone community projects.
Since the program began, 18 students have completed the Introduction to Solar Photo-Voltaic course. Students were a mix of traditional and non-traditional students who attended courses on a full time and part time basis. For the AAS Renewable Energy degree students must complete 19 courses which takes approximately 2 years. While the Renewable Energy certificate is completed with 6 courses and typically takes a year.
Instructors, Tim Wilhelm and Jennifer Martin have had much success with their students. Students have said Professor Wilhelm is, “Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Awesome. Excellent. Inspiring. Fun. Engaging. Intelligent. Best teacher I have had in my entire life.” As well as “He teaches in a way that makes the subject interesting.” Students have also said that they are “Learning many ways to get energy from the sun, wind, and water.”
Big things are in store for Kankakee’s Electrical Technology program. In 2016 they will be moving into a new Advanced Technology Education Center on KCC Riverfront campus. This LEED Gold 21,000 square foot space will contain classrooms, labs, offices and support spaces that will provide hands-on technical training in small wind energy, solar thermal technology, solar photovoltaic systems and general electrical technology.