ETEC Program Article

In the fall of 2019, Central Community College (CCC) officially started its new Energy Technology (ETEC) program.  The ETEC program is located on the Hastings campus in the State of Nebraska. The program is unique in its offerings, with Certificates in Wind Energy Technology, Solar Energy Technology, and Battery Storage Technology classes. The program offers a diploma and Associates of Applied Science degree in Energy Technology.  

The program has access to a fully operational 1.75-megawatt wind turbine, which is used to support the Hastings Campus’s energy needs. The Wind Turbine was installed about three years ago and was put in place through partnerships and collaboration with Bluestem Energy Solutions, Hastings Utilities, and CCC.  

Bluestem has provided access to the wind turbine, and the program faculty and students are able to train with real-world applications, allowing students to get into and climb the wind turbine. Additionally, the Hastings campus has solar panels on-site, allowing students to work with live solar panels as part of their course work. The program’s goal is to offer students access to resources and technology, showcasing all areas of the renewable energy sector, making them more attractive to employers after graduation.

Over the next five years, the renewable energy industry is expected to grow by 56%! One significant benefit to the rapid increase in the renewable energy industry is the addition of new projects throughout Nebraska and the United States. These new projects also bring with them a demand for an increase in labor and jobs. 

When comparing the Nebraska Wind Map to those of other states, Nebraska is shown to have the potential to produce more energy from wind than states like Iowa and Kansas. Still, they are much farther ahead of Nebraska in terms of renewable energy development.  

Cities and communities are seeing a benefit provided by wind and solar farms. Hastings recently established a solar farm that produces around one megawatt of solar energy per day for the community. Hastings Utilities has allowed CCC students to tour and learn more about solar energy and the production provided by a solar farm. Access to the local solar farm helps provide a working knowledge of solar panels outside of the 16-kilowatt solar array that we have on-site at CCC.

The CCC ETEC program has a great opportunity to prepare students to work in a wide variety of jobs in the energy sector, such as installation technicians, repair and maintenance technicians, field engineers, and many other crucial positions for constructing and maintaining renewable energy facilities. Another draw for the program at CCC is that with the increase in projects across Nebraska, there are more opportunities for in-state students to stay close to home for their education/training and for their chosen career. By creating more in-state opportunities, fewer Nebraskans will be forced to leave the state to find work, helping keep Nebraska families and communities together.  

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