Citing the need to recruit and train a larger, educated workforce to support the global expansion of renewable energy, GE and Excelsior College have arranged for GE employees to receive up to nearly 50 college credits from the college for completing the company’s intensive renewable energy services training program.
To earn GE’s Lead Certification Standard, technicians must complete more than 500 hours of classroom, online and practical, hands-on field training on wind turbine components at GE’s Energy Learning Center (ELC) in Schenectady, N.Y., where GE’s renewable energy business is headquartered.
At the ELC, technicians are trained—with a strong focus on safety—to inspect and repair actual GE wind turbine components, including the nacelle, which is installed atop a 200-foot steel tower and houses the wind turbine’s generating equipment.
Technicians who complete the certification program now are eligible to earn up to 49 credit hours for their work experience through Excelsior College, the leading nonprofit, regionally accredited distance education institution in the nation.
Excelsior College has created a new concentration in Renewable Energy Technologies within the school’s Bachelor of Professional Studies in Technology Management program. The general public is eligible to register for this concentration starting August 8, 2012. GE’s technicians also may apply their college credits to the new degree concentration.
“Excelsior College recognizes the future of adult education will be increasingly aligned with the needs of businesses and workers alike, including the energy industry,” said Excelsior College President Dr. John F. Ebersole. “We are pleased to partner with GE on our new renewable energy area of focus within our Bachelor of Professional Studies program and reach a new segment of the competitive adult education population.”
Travis Anderson is one of the first GE service technicians to enroll in the Excelsior College program. Anderson, GE’s site lead at the Blue Canyon Wind Farm in Oklahoma, has worked at wind farm sites using GE turbines for five years. After helping develop the process that enabled GE technicians to participate in the Excelsior College program, he enrolled himself and is eligible to receive 48 credits.
“The renewable energy college credits program with Excelsior College is important to us as GE employees because it recognizes the value of our training and rewards us for our classroom and practical work experience,” Anderson said.
The quality and thoroughness of GE’s certification program is a significant differentiator for GE’s renewables services business. The Energy Learning Center also offers one of the most comprehensive array of training classes in the energy industry.
“Offering our employees the opportunity to earn college credits for completing our Wind Technician Certification Program not only enhances the value of our products and services, but it also enables GE to compete for—and retain—the skilled workers we need to support our globally installed base of wind turbines,” said Andy Holt, general manager—renewable energy services for GE Power & Water.
The Excelsior College program marks the first time GE has partnered with a U.S. college to award credits to its renewable energy technicians for their work experience. GE has forged relationships with a number of other U.S. colleges and universities—including Union Graduate College in Schenectady—in complementary fields as the energy industry seeks to recruit and train new engineers and technicians as employees from the “Baby Boomer” era retire.