Northeastern Junior College (NJC) in Sterling, CO, is beginning its fifth year of wind technology training programs. Situated in an area, which is a hot bed for wind development with more than 800 megawatts produced wind energy in an 80-mile radius of the school and two more sites going up this summer that will be producing an additional 200-300 megawatts. Six different turbine technologies are currently operating in the area near NJC near the Nebraska state line NJC, with the help of industry partners, developed an Associate of Applied Science degree in wind technology to produce competent and well-rounded technicians that can adapt to different technologies and situations. The local wind companies have helped by supplying equipment, and donations to advance the college’s program. The students complete a 240-hour internship in the wind industry to gain valuable work experience and must also take general education classes that advance computer, communication, and soft skills.
The NJC wind program recently graduated the second class of 17 technicians in May 2012. Within three months of graduation, 14 of the 17 students were employed as technicians with GE, NextEra Energy, Invenergy, enXco, and Blattner Energy. The remaining three students are continuing their education in business or engineering.
What sets NJC’s wind program apart is its strong safety practices and on the job training attitude. Twenty-two students are allowed into the program each fall. The small class size allows for more hands on and one-on-one instructor time. Tuition, fees, and books for the program are approximately $10,000 for the full two year A.A.S. degree. Students leave NJC with an OSHA 10 hour certificate, CPR and First Aid certificate, and an associate’s degree. At NJC, the three instructors in the wind training program have a combined eight years of wind industry experience as technicians with three different companies. For more information, visit www.njc.edu or contact Jim Lenzen, assistant director of Renewable Energy at (970) 521-6740.