A Job Of A Different Color

Hudson Valley Community College leads the way in preparing students for environmentally friendly “green-collar” work



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Hands-on learning: HVCC’s photovoltaic lab has both roof-mounted and post-mounted solar panels, so students gain experience in installing and maintaining both systems

It’s Easy Being Green

TEC-SMART is currently just a name, but in 2010 it will also be a place. HVCC is constructing a $13.5 million facility in the Saratoga Technology and Energy Park in the town of Malta. It will house all the training programs and also have a clean room for training in the semiconductor industry, Sarubbi says.

And it will be a showcase for energy-efficient technology. “We are still in the design stage, but we plan to incorporate solar panels; wind turbines; and geothermal heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems,” Sarubbi says. “We are exploring using sustainable bamboo flooring and special microfiber carpet as well.” The final design, he says, will qualify the facility for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, a national coalition of building-industry businesses that promotes environmentally responsible construction.

Teaching the Teachers

As an emerging leader in the field, HVCC also hosts an annual national conference on green tech. Last spring’s meeting was called “New Ideas in Educating a Workforce in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: A National Conference for Educators and Trainers.” They may need to work on their names, but their programs are doing quite well.

“We had reps from 33 states and four countries,” says Sarubbi. “More than 350 people came. Most were from community colleges and tech schools. We showed them how to set up these kinds of programs, how to get the necessary equipment, how to get funding. They all toured our labs and were thoroughly impressed. Their cameras were clicking away — I tell you, I felt like A-Rod about to hit his 500th home run.”

Many wonder if the whole “Tech Valley” thing is just a marketing gimmick. But Sarubbi believes it’s real and that jobs are coming. “Take the company Renewable Power Systems, in Rensselaer County, for example,” he says. “They are the third largest PV installer in the state. Last year they had seven employees; this year they’re up to 15. Business is booming for them. They are a microcosm for this industry. PV is really taking off. We believe that wind and geothermal will, too. So will alternative fuels.” And much of the research in nanotech is working toward clean energy — creating new solar film technology, for instance. “We are extremely excited to be training today’s technicians for tomorrow’s technology,” Sarubbi says. “It’s what we’ve been doing for more than 50 years. But we really want to be at the forefront in this field.”

 

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