Since its founding in 1965, Redstone College in Denver, Colorado has been committed to providing students with quality, skill-based educational opportunities centered around industry demand.
Originally focused on airframe and power plant training, the institution has expanded in the decades since to include avionics and HVAC. In 2010, amid accelerated growth of the wind energy industry in the U.S., Redstone College started its Wind Energy Technology (WET) program with the goal of preparing students for stable, well-paying jobs in the wind sector.
“Our mission is to get the students good jobs so that they can take care of themselves and their families,” said Travis Perko, a former wind energy technician who currently serves as Redstone’s WET program director.” Personally, I went through a wind program. I love wind. And when I physically couldn’t climb anymore, this is a way for me to be able to give back to the industry by putting out qualified techs. That’s really the biggest mission — putting out the best quality product, which is our students, into the industry that we can.”
Considering the nature of the work performed by wind energy technicians, properly training students for their chosen careers requires an approach that combines classroom instruction with a significant amount of hands-on training.
Striking the proper balance, Perko said, is key to successfully preparing students for the industry.
“When I first started at this school a year ago, there was a lot of hands-on, but there was a lot of academic as well,” he said. “The other schools out there are highly academic, so I’m constantly challenging my instructors to come up with more labs and new ways to give the students hands-on experience for when they get into the field.
The WET program at Redstone is an Associate of Occupational Studies degree program, encompassing 90 credit hours obtained by completing 17 courses taken over six terms. The duration of the program is typically 15 months.
The course curriculum is designed to give students a solid, foundational knowledge of safety, electronics, turbine systems, industrial controls and automation, and maintenance and troubleshooting.
Hands-on experience at Redstone is gained primarily through lab situations using onsite wind-energy specific equipment, including a Vestas V27 nacelle for advanced troubleshooting, and a 35-foot climb tower for climbing safety certification.
“Most of them, when they leave here, they are no longer afraid of electricity and they’re not afraid to climb,” Perko said.
That fact is evidence of Redstone’s core emphasis on work safety.
“One of the biggest focus areas for us is safety — making sure that when students leave, they have an appreciation for being at-height and for being around rotating machinery,” Perko said. “They also have an appreciation of electricity so that they’re not going to jump into a situation that is not safe.”
The WET program typically has an enrollment of 65-80 students. While each individual student’s motivation for pursuing a career in wind energy differs, many Redstone WET enrollees enter the program due to the economic advantages over similar skilled professions.
Although most students who graduate from Redstone’s WET program choose to seek employment in the wind energy industry, others find work in industries which require similar skill sets — such as oil & gas and light rail.
Overall, job placement numbers at Redstone are impressive, with over 95 percent of graduates employed at or near graduation.
Additional information about Redstone College’s Wind Energy Technology program, including course descriptions, career outlook, program brochure, and course catalog can be found online at www.redstone.edu/wind-energy. For information about admissions and the application process, call (888) 547-4037 or visit www.redstone.edu/admissions.
Redstone College Wind Energy Technology Program
Location: Denver, Colorado
Degree: Associate of Occupational Studies
Duration: 15 months (6 terms)
Credit Hours: 90
Number of courses: 17 (13 core; 4 general education)
Subjects: wind energy, safety, electronics, motors and generators, controllers, turbine design, turbine systems & components, maintenance, troubleshooting
Equipment: Vestas V27 nacelle (lab setting); 35-foot climb safety training tower
Admissions requirements: High school diploma or equivalent (e.g., GED); admissions interview
Application process: Contact admissions representative. Additional information available online.
Phone: (888) 547-4037