Twelve science teachers, who were selected by Sandia Laboratories to work on research projects, recently visited Mesalands Community College to learn about its North American Wind Research and Training Center (NAWRTC) and the college’s Mesalands Dinosaur Museum.
The group consisted of middle school and high school teachers from New Mexico, Kansas, Oregon and Pennsylvania, who were chosen to do research on technology advancement.
“I have lived all my life in Albuquerque and I had no idea that such a great program exists only a few hours drive away,” said one of the participants about the college’s paleontology program.
“The group was very impressed with what they saw concerning wind energy and the college’s commitment to help people start a career in a growing, well-paying industry. They all want to come back next year when our full scale turbine will be in place,” said Tracy Rascoe, Wind Energy Technology Program Director/Instructor at Mesalands.
In other news related to the NAWRTC, the administration and staff at Mesalands have been working to build a solid curriculum that will train technicians to be highly qualified for the wind energy industry and be very desirable employee candidates.
“We have developed a program that will become the leader in this industry, able to educate and train technicians to take on the 170,000 new wind technician jobs that will materialize within the next few years,” Rascoe said. So the college has been reaching out to establish connections within the industry where graduating students may want to seek employment.
One such contact was recently made by college President Phillip O. Barry on a trip to General Electric headquarters at Schenectady, N.Y., where he visited with Victor Abate, vice president of GE’s Renewables. The meeting was held for a number of reasons, including the recruitment of a GE representative to serve on the college’s Wind Energy Advisory Committee, the request for an endorsement by GE of the college’s curriculum and financial assistance for the turbine erection and for equipment and tools to be used in the program. During that meeting Abate said, according to Barry, “GE will hire all of your (Wind Energy Technician) graduates for the next three years.”
Other out-reach contacts have been initiated with T. Boone Pickens, CEO of BP Capital, Steven C. Begay, general manager of Diné Power Authority, Joe Shirley, Jr., President of the Navajo Nation, and Joseph Kennedy, president of Citizens Energy Corporation, the firm that is developing a wind farm for the Navajo Nation.
With all of the wind energy installations already in eastern New Mexico along with the planned Mesa wind power project near Pampa, Texas, (which has been dubbed the largest wind energy farm in the world), Mesalands’ graduates should be able to find work in this area or just across the Texas state line. The turbines to be installed at the project near Pampa will be the same kind as the one to be installed at Mesalands Community College.