Conversation with Wayne Kilcollins

Wind Power Technical Institute/Northern Maine Community College


What is your role with Northern Maine Community College?

I have been the lead instructor for the Wind Power Technology program at Northern Maine Community College for the past three years. A portion of my role has been to develop curriculum for the associate level program that match current and anticipated skills for wind technicians through discussions with wind industry leaders both in the project development and operations and maintenance arenas. My other roles have been to deliver course material and identify equipment that may be used for students to practice skills. Our program has been successful in obtaining much of the necessary training equipment through private and corporate donations. Our efforts have enabled many of the program graduates to enter the workforce in wind related career opportunities.

What is your background?

My educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management. I have spent 25 plus years with organizations developing automated assembly equipment, implementing process improvements, and assisting with technical training. These organizations include Bell Laboratories, First Technology, and General Electric. This background has given me an appreciation for organizations that develop and service industrial equipment. After many years of field experience, I felt it was time to turn my attention to sharing what I have learned with the next generation of engineers and technicians.

Why did you decide to write Maintenance Fundamentals for Wind Technicians?

My initial effort with the Northern Maine Community College Wind Power Technology program was to find textbooks that would be appropriate for each of our new courses. I spent time searching the Internet and speaking with publishers to find textbooks that would match the needs of our program. There were textbooks available for general wind energy information, bachelor and graduate level engineering courses, but none that focused on the certificate or associate level wind technology programs. After several discussions with publishers, one called back and said they were looking for someone to write a textbook that would match my needs and those of several other colleges looking for the same type of material. Writing a textbook was new territory for me, but I figured it was worth the time to pull my discussion materials into one textbook that would fill a need for our program and other wind energy technology programs.

Will Maintenance Fundamentals for Wind Technicians only be available for students at NMCC or will it have a mass audience?

Maintenance Fundamentals for Wind Technicians will be available for anyone interested in wind energy technology. I developed the material to explain some of the basic skills necessary to work with wind turbines and then expanded on these skills to show how they are used with typical maintenance activities of community and utility size systems. The publisher coordinated peer reviews of the textbook material with instructors from several of the wind energy technology programs within the United States. Their feedback was invaluable in ensuring that the material would meet their needs as well as those of my students. I believe the textbook material will be valuable in explaining how skills learned in the classroom and lab setting will be used in the field.

Explain how the textbook will benefit students in practical applications?

Discussion materials within the textbook and instructor materials will assist instructors in facilitating classroom discussions of what basic skills are necessary for careers in the wind energy field. The expanded discussions of how these skills are used in the maintenance and operation aspects of wind energy technology will assist students in pulling these concepts together for work activities. Supplemental materials provided to instructors will aid in developing activities for students to use in practicing necessary skills before they enter the workforce. The textbook material not only focuses on hard technical skills to complete a task, but also on the soft skills necessary to do the task safely and communicate necessary information to others such as their supervisor, engineers, and customers.

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