Late last year, Ulster BOCES, under the guidance of Virginia Carrig, received ISPQ Accreditation for its PV Installer Program which includes Electrical Theory for Renewable Energy Practitioners, Introduction to PV Technology, PV Installer’s Course and NABCEP PV Entry Level Exam Prep Course.  Also included are elective courses PV System Design & Sizing, Building Integrated Photovoltaics, Photovoltaics and the National Electric Code, and Renewable Energy Exploration.  According to ISPQ’s Pat Fox, the Ulster BOCES application, and site visit, were exemplary–unparalleled in its attention to detail.   Virginia Carrig, Renewable Energy Coordinator and Operations Manager for the Ulster Adult Career Education Center, a division of Ulster BOCES, was the diligent task master for the application, assembling the right team and following through from concept to final site visit.

“We actually started working, in earnest, on the application around November 2009,” said Carrig.  “We submitted the application in March 2010 and were awarded recognition in October 2010.”

Any difficulties along the way?  Surely there were a few, right?

“The only difficulty that I encountered,” she said,  “was that others (instructors, etc.) from whom I needed information or advice, also found it difficult to find the time to focus on this task because of their own busy schedules.  So I would find myself waiting for key pieces of information or eventually gathering the information or completing the task in question by myself (or by another staff member) to keep the project moving along.”

We thought you might like to know how she did it.  Virginia happily shares her experience, with this, the application process. She’ll follow-up with advice for the on-site visit.

Thanks, Virginia, and congratulations on a job very well done.

Virginia Carrig

The ISPQ Application. Those words can strike fear in the heart of the most seasoned educator or program administrator. It is a good news/ bad news scenario rolled into one. It’s good news because you’ve achieved programmatic or personal success worthy of this prestigious recognition. The ISPQ application is your chance to show the world (or at least the ISPQ auditors) the wonders of your program or your professional accomplishments. It’s bad news because…well, have you ever read an ISPQ application?  Let’s just say it’s daunting. Since our PV program and two instructors just successfully completed the process, here is some insight into how to prepare for ISPQ accreditation (and live to pat yourself on the back).

The ISPQ application should come with a warning label that reads, “Do NOT attempt this alone.” If you are like me, you will be expected to complete this massive document in between all the routine demands of your job. You won’t be given a hiatus from your other responsibilities to complete this task. So don’t try to do it alone. I tried, but didn’t get very far until my manager contributed substantial personal support, as well as clerical assistance, from our department. As a team, we were successful.

In case you haven’t noticed, the application is lengthy and requires collection of an enormous amount of documentation and information. Once you’ve formed your team, read and then re-read the entire application and develop a time line for project completion and a method to maintain organization. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just effective. We broke down the application by section in an enormous binder and just kept adding data as we gathered it.

DO sweat the details. The ISPQ application process is essentially the creation of an encyclopedia of your program. It is a collection of existing school policy, program statistics, marketing materials, curriculum, and curriculum analysis. The majority of this information already exists. You just need to find where to access it and then how to organize it within the application. Once you’ve completed the project, assign someone to make sure that each “i” is dotted, and each “t” is crossed. Then check it again.

Through teamwork, organization, and some old-fashioned blood, sweat, and tears, your ISPQ application can be in the mail and you can focus on the field audit. In the meantime take a deep breath. You’re half way there!