In early 2003, a small group of wind energy experts and college administrators gathered to begin discussions on a possible wind program for Iowa Lakes Community College. By November of that year, the Iowa Department of Education approved the first educational wind program in the state: a two-year Associate in Applied Science, Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program at Iowa Lakes. There were 15 students the first year (fall of 2004). By the second year of operation, admissions to the program had to be temporarily suspended, due to limited space.
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Today the program has a total of six instructors. In the fall of 2010, 102 freshmen were accepted. The program has a total enrollment of 160 as of the spring semester, 2011.
While the majority of students come from right here in the heartland of America, our program attracts students from every corner of the U.S., and even overseas.
The top 10 states for wind energy jobs are: Texas, Iowa, California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Colorado and Indiana. (American Wind Energy Association, 3rd Quarter 2010 Market Report).
Graduates hired into the operations and maintenance field can expect salaries ranging upward from around $30,000 per year depending on the work they perform and the location they are assigned to.
The program is located on the Estherville campus, although students may participate in any extracurricular activity offered at any of the five campuses.
On-campus housing is available at the Estherville campus. Apply early to ensure a spot. Click here to learn more about housing. Housing is also available on the Emmetsburg and Spencer campuses.
Curriculum is industry driven. The Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program has a robust Program Advisory Committee. Participation continues to be very valuable. Program faculty attend industry conferences, including the American Wind Energy Association’s National Conference, annually, to ensure our curriculum keeps pace with industry demands.
Students utilize a 1.65 megawatt working turbine as an educational laboratory. (It is located about a half mile south of campus.) Students climb the turbine within the first week of classes to get a feel for what will be expected of them on the job. Industry support for the Wind Energy program has been tremendous. The Advisory Committee is an integral part of the education students receive. Guest speakers, industry input on curriculum, and faculty development, along with field trips to local projects, manufacturing and service facilities in the area make the program unique. The program’s concentration is on the operation and maintenance of wind turbines. Classes cover many aspects of the wind energy industry to include, most importantly, safety training as well as extensive training in electrical theory and practical application, mechanical systems, hydraulic theory and practical application & field training which crane signaling, rigging and wind turbine siting.
The College sells all of the electricity from the turbine to the City of Estherville. Just short of $130,000 worth of electricity is generated each year. That covers more than 70 percent of what is used in electricity in the educational buildings on the Estherville campus. (FY 10 Info).
In addition to our current facility, we are expanding into a brand new facility that will become our Sustainable Energy Resources and Technology (SERT) Center. It will house more advanced training, from wind and solar to HVAC and geothermal. It will be a vital resource connecting other renewable and sustainable resources and technologies together. Not only will energy systems continue to be a focus, several other disciplines studying energy delivery as a “system” will be brought together in this unique, new environment. Iowa Lakes Community College’s Environmental Studies and Sustainable Energy programs will connect intuitive “dots” illustrating why sustainability is so vital to America’s future, and an industry training element will offer continuing education and certifications in focus areas. The SERT represents our next step forward in building a pathway toward a sustainable future.
Industry demand for highly trained technicians remains strong and students compete for openings in a wide array of industry jobs. While industry needs typically outpace the number of program completers, we pride ourselves on offering a rigorous program that prepares graduates for an increasingly competitive field. As a result, our graduates have been successful in finding industry jobs, thanks to the high-quality training we offer.
The industry has been very proactive in promoting career opportunities. There are several organizations, including AWEA (American Wind Energy Association), IWEA (Iowa Wind Energy Association) and WOWE (Women of Wind Energy) as well as all media venues keeping the need for technicians in the public eye. The cost of providing quality education and retaining qualified instructors continues to challenge colleges. The college appreciates the support it has received in terms of federal and state grants, and industry contributions.
Wind Energy students are required to meet a math criteria to be admitted and enrolled into the program. Students need to be ready to enroll in intermediate algebra or have already completed a comparable higher level math course. This high level of technical training assures their success in the wind industry. A thorough knowledge of algebraic and basic trigonometry functions is vital to understanding and practicing electrical theory – key to understanding a wind turbine’s theory of operation.
Students become fully accepted into the Wind Energy program when they earn a score on the ASSET, COMPASS or ACT exam which allows them to enroll in Intermediate Algebra or a higher level math course. (Students may also have college transcripts which show they have satisfied the requirement.) Once fully accepted, students will receive a letter stating this. The best advice is to start the admission process early. Apply Now
The college has a Wind Energy Club. It is an organization made up of students who are interested in working together as a group to promote and educate the public about wind energy and the college’s program. Members have participated in activities such as speaking to other student groups, and local groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary and American Legion to inform them about the program and the wind industry. Wind Energy Club members have participated in activities such as a reading program for local elementary students. They also have group activities such as Frisbee golf, outdoor cookouts, etc. To learn more, visit their web site at www.ilccwindclub.org.
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