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KVCC Graduates Another Crop Of Wind Turbine Techs

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With 14 enrollees ready for their Dec. 10 graduation from Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Wind Turbine Technician Academy, all slots have been filled for the third edition of the 26 weeks of training and applications are being taken for the fourth that starts July 5.

Scheduled for 10 a.m. at KVCC’s Michigan Technical Education Center on The Groves Campus off on Ninth Street along I-94, the program is open to the public.

The third academy will convene on Jan. 3 with graduation slated for June 30.  Members of that class hail from Arizona, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota and Michigan.  Among the home towns of the Michigan enrollees are Muskegon, Vicksburg, and Kalamazoo. 

The graduates of the second academy are:
* James Babiasz of Kalamazoo
* Charles Williams of Kalamazoo
* Anthony Parcher of Kentwood, who will speak for the graduates
* Raymond Bradley of Greenville
* Nicholas Matkin of Kalamazoo
* Nicholas Clements of Clawson
* Arden Major of Marcellus
* Alexis Della Costa of Kendall, N. Y.
* Larry Lawlor of Waukegan, Ill.
* Dan Fagan of Port Sanilac
* Justin Knapp of Casa Grande, Ariz.
* Mohamed Farwana of Kalamazoo
* Andrew Galemore of Carbondale, Colo.
* David Houting of Zeeland

Presenting the credentials to the second batch of graduates will be their instructors, Tom Sutton and Greg Meeuwsen. 

Parcher, Della Costa, Galemore, Williams and Farwana were the recipients of $1,000 scholarships from the Grainger Foundation, which is based in Lake Forest, Ill. Dellas Costa is the first female graduate of the academy.

Prospects for employment would appear high for the graduates of the second academy if the fate of the first students is any indication.

Fourteen of those graduates are employed, 11 of them in the wind-turbine industry.  Of the other two, one has returned to his native England to seek employment in the British wind industry while the other is lining up interviews.  Of those not currently involved with wind turbines, one has resumed his education in California and another has been deployed to Afghanistan as part of his military commitment.

“It is exciting to hear from our graduates in the field,” said Cindy Buckley, director of training and development at the M-TEC.  “Five are employed by the same company. Two from Michigan have kept their homes and their families here. They are flown to their jobs around the country, work for five weeks, and are flown back here for two to three weeks.”

Buckley said the graduates are “like a fraternity. On one assignment, five of the graduates ended up at the same wind farm in Montana. Our graduates are highly regarded in the wind industry for the quality of their training and their commitment to safety.”

She reports that company and industry recruiters have already contacted those who will receive their academy credentials on Dec. 10 and scheduled interviews.

The KVCC academy received a $550,000 federal appropriation to purchase specialized laboratory equipment, including a 90-foot tower and turbine unit that is scheduled to be installed in the M-TEC’s parking median for testing and training purposes by New Year’s Day.

Only KVCC’s program is certified by Bildungszentrum fur Erneuerebare Energien in the United States. “ocated in Husum, Germany, and founded in 2000, BZEE was created and supported by major wind-turbine manufacturers, component makers, and enterprises that provide operation and maintenance services. As wind-energy production increased throughout Europe, the need for high-quality, industry-driven, international standards emerged. BZEE has become the leading trainer for wind-turbine technicians across Europe and now in Asia.

KVCC has educational partnerships with Fuhrlaender North America, based in North Kingston, R. I., and the Michigan-based Crystal Flash Renewable Energy.  These arrangements give KVCC academy students the chance for in-depth exposure to the maintenance requirements and hands-on monitoring of utility-scale wind turbines, and to cutting-edge technologies.

The first step to gain access into the next academy is to complete the written application, which can be downloaded at www.kvcc.edu/training. Applications can be mailed or faxed to the college. 

A math test is also part of the screening process, along with the results of a medical examination and documented work experience in technical fields. 

The last step in the application process is a screening for an ability to function in tight quarters and work at great heights.

The fee is $12,000.

For more information, contact Buckley at (269) 353-1250 or cbuckley@kvcc.edu. A video about the program is available at http://www.mteckvcc.com/windtechacademy.html.

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