Blue-Collar Jobs Meet Green Standards
After a few years working in the trades, Gudelsky students often return to the classroom to learn new skills. Increased efficiency standards often create changes within entire industries, including the building trades, automotive, and heating and air-conditioning, where power consumption maximums, emissions, and materials are regulated by state and federal agencies.
“Up until the last decade, tradesmen were doing things the same way our fathers and grandfathers had done them,” says John Phillips.
Changes in methods, tools, and materials mean changes in Gudelsky curricula. In the building trades, for example, new courses in green technology will be offered this fall. Students will be trained in renewable and sustainable energy technologies, wind generator systems, and solar thermal and photovoltaic design and installation. With grant funding, the College purchased solar panel equipment and created labs and coursework with input from industry experts.
In the auto industry, hybrids are driving change in the workplace. Hybrid car owners are looking to independent shops for repairs, as their 10-year manufacturer warranties expire. Anticipating the need for more workers trained in hybrid engine technology, Professor Debra Anderson secured a federal Perkins grant to purchase hybrid vehicles. The new fleet includes: 2012 Ford Fusion, Honda Incite, Toyota Prius, and one all-electric Nissan Leaf. Gudelsky now offers an Introduction to Hybrid Vehicles course.
As a public-private venture, Gudelsky and its students benefit from ongoing partnerships with local employers, many of whom contributed to the facility’s $6.5 million construction cost back in 1992, and who sit on the institute’s advisory board. Gudelsky faculty bring real-world experiences to the classroom. They enjoy connecting students, like Lily Landau, to apprenticeships and jobs—the ultimate goal.
Career Opportunities: New Technologies
In addition to new automotive courses in hybrid vehicle technology, MC recently expanded offerings for workers seeking careers in energy technology. In summer 2013, the College added five new credit courses to its solar, wind technology, PV (photovoltaic) and solar thermal (water) heating curricula. New equipment and materials were purchased via $200,000 in grant funding, and the College became a registered Solar PV entry-level exam provider for NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) in June 2012. Jobs in alternative energy are expected to grow with continued federal funding and an increased demand for renewable energy sources.