Associate in Applied Science in Sustainable Energy Technology

Salem Community College, 460 Hollywood Ave., Carneys Point Township, NJ 08069

Salem Community College in Carney’s Point, NJ received a Department of Labor grant to start a sustainable energy program, along with a nuclear program, in 2008. At the time, New Jersey was ranked second in the country for cumulative installed PV capacity, and there was a growing demand for knowledgeable employees. Based on consultation with Rutgers University, college administration structured the Associate in Applied Science in Sustainable Energy Technology program to feed students into a four year degree at another institution. After two years, the emphasis was switched from a feeder program to the stand-alone AAS, and a 30 credit academic certificate and an 18 credit career certificate were added in order to satisfy demand for students who weren’t interested in pursuing a two year program.

Program Description

Salem Community College offers three tracks for a student interested in solar and other renewable energy technologies, including an Associate in Applied Science degree, a certificate program, and a career certificate program. All of the solar classes are also delivered frequently to business and industry on a non-credit basis.

The programs are oriented towards solar electricity, but the students are also exposed to and have the option to explore wind energy, solar thermal technologies, weatherization, and building efficiency. The programs are not designed for student transfer to 4-year programs. The programs are intended to ready students for entry-level positions, and to improve their employability, whether through adherence to industry certifications (Salem provides NABCEP entry-level certification, for example) or by offering courses in business, management, safety, and technical drawing on top of solar-specific coursework. Courses provide students with a solid foundation in basic scientific principles as well as mathematics. Students are exposed to the theory, materials and equipment necessary to work in the field.

Salem pulls students from southern New Jersey, Delaware, and south eastern Pennsylvania. Students are often interested in exploring different careers when they arrive, and will range across the disciplines offered.

All of the courses in the lower certificates can be used to satisfy the requirements for the Associate in Applied Science.

Program Attributes

  • A Certificate and Career Certificate program offered as feeders into a Associate of Applied Science
  • Students are able to cross solar knowledge with weatherization and building efficiency

Case Study Interview

1. What inspired you to spearhead the effort to integrate solar content into your courses, curriculum, or programs?

SCC received a DOL grant for a sustainable energy job training certificate and degree program.

2. What major obstacles did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

Recruiting students and advertising the program. We have an ongoing open house program and PR information program.

3. What were the keys to successfully achieving solar content integration (e.g., support of a person or persons; part of a planned curriculum improvement project; recommendations from industry or an advisory board; etc.)?

Solar content integration is part of the career certificate program, academic certificate program and sustainable energy technology AAS degree program. This curriculum and degree program was approved by the College Board and subsequently the State of New Jersey.

4. How long did the process take from initial concept presentation or proposal to implementation?

Two years to fully implement the grant program  and recruit the first cohort of students.

5. Was this primarily a one-person effort, or did you have one or more partners who shared a significant portion of the workload?

This was a team effort to write the grant and implement the program.

6. What products or services from your Regional Training Provider (RTP) and the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) were most useful to you in achieving solar content integration at your institution?

All of the training provided by our SITN were essential to set the baseline for instructor training and program preparation including equipment selection and training resources.

7. Are there other products or services that you would suggest for the RTPs and/or the SITN to offer that would be helpful in the process of implementing solar content integration?

We need to have more industry involvement to provide programs with training materials such as panels, charge controllers, inverters, BOS components etc. Things change quickly so having updated equipment helps prepare students for employment or continued education beyond our community college programs.

8. Would you be willing to share course proposals, curriculum improvement proposals, and/or curriculum outlines for the courses, curriculum, and programs that you used as part of the solar content integration process?


9. If yes, would you agree to have these materials available on the IREC web site (with links from the RTP web sites)?


10. Would you be willing to be listed as a contact person on the IREC web site to share your solar content integration experience with other interested parties?


11. Would you be willing and able to specify all occupations for which the training that you offer applies (e.g., this program trains students for these occupations/jobs)?


12. Was specific funding appropriated for solar content integration into related course, curriculum, and/or program development?

Yes. Through grant programs and Perkins funding

13. If special funding was available, would you be willing to share the amount of funding on the IREC web site?


Course Listings

Sustainable Energy: Green Technology (AAS) Sustainable Energy Technology Certificate Sustainable Energy: Solar Energy Technology Career Certificate
Course Abbreviation Course Name Credit Hours R = Required for that program or concentration
C = Concentration Course
E = Elective for that program
ENG 101 English Composition I 3 R R
MAT 137 College Algebra 3 R R
SET 101 Energy, the Environment, and Society 3 R R R
SET 220 Photovoltaic Solar Technology 3 R
ENG 102 English Composition II 3 R
NET 133 Electrical Science 4 R R R
SET 210 Wind Energy Technology 3 R E
CHM 101 College Chemistry I 4 R
PHY 101 Physics I 4 R
SET 190 Construction Safety Management 3 R
CAD 101 Technical Drawing and CAD 3 R R R
GEO 101 World Regional Geography 3 R R
SET 150 Solar Photovoltaic Electric Systems 5 R R
BUS 102 Introduction to Business 3 E E E
BUS 103 Principles of Management 3 E E E
CHM 102 College Chemistry II 4 E
PHY 102 Physics II 4 E
SET 151 Advanced Photovoltaic Installer 3 E E E
SET 200 Sustainable Energy Internship 3 E E
SET 225 Certified Solar Thermal Installer 3 C E E
SET 160 Building Energy Audit Technology 5 C E
SET 161 Building Envelope Technology 3 C E
SET 180 Green Building Technology 3 C E
SET 181 Sustainable Building Design and Practices 3 C E
SET 170 Weatherization Building Science 3 C E
Total Required Credit Hours: 60-65 30-34 18



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