Earlier this month, Southern Mid-Atlantic solar instructors gathered in North Carolina’s capital for the College Collaborative Forum on Solar Program Development hosted by the North Carolina Solar Center. The camaraderie within the Solar Instructor Series was apparent. Fifteen instructors flew, drove, and carpooled to reunite with past participants and visit with old friends. Seven instructors joined the discussion online, allowing them to follow along and participate virtually.
“We were like the crazy school bus,“ said Joe Mitchell of Virginia Highlands Community College who picked up Tal McBride in Virginia and Will Soyars just across the border in Rockingham, NC. The three had taken our solar workshops in North Carolina and Maryland together.
As they waited for the forum to start, instructors boasted like proud parents about the success of the solar programs they have helped implement at their colleges. The four Wake Technical Community College instructors shared that they now offer introduction to solar PV, solar thermal design and installation, and solar training courses. Similar course offerings were now being considered by the Harford Community College, Rockingham Community College, and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, demonstrating the many different routes to achieve the same goal. The overall agreement was that these programs would not have been possible without the support and training they receive through the Solar Instructor Series. Colleges without solar training courses yet in place were able to receive feedback and ideas from the group as to how to move forward in the development process.
Many of them were excited with the launch of the new online resource site on a Moodle platform which can be used to support their efforts in solar program development. Participants said they were looking forward to navigate it and the opportunities that it creates. The open dialogue discussion allowed instructors to voice out what more they would like to see added to the site as it grows. The Group Discussion feature hosted on the site will promote collaboration among schools. There already were talks forming among instructors about pooling resources to go after grants together.
“This is great,” said Gene Williams of the College of the Albemarle. “I’d like to share pictures of what we’re doing in Edenton. We’ve got pictures from our solar and wind workshops.”
The Center also announced the Small Grants for Solar Schools and the 40 – hour curriculum licensing program that will help jump start or enhance their solar courses. More details are set to be released mid-December.
As the group adjourned, many stayed to talk about possible collaborations in going after different grants. The handful of new community college recruits to the program had certainly been introduce to not just the opportunities that can be available to them, but also to the wealth of relationships that arise from the Solar Instructor Series.
Source: North Carolina Solar Center