The North American Wind Research and Training Center at Tucumcari, N.M.-based Mesalands Community College has announced that it has used funds received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to assist students in gaining the skills, knowledge and hands-on training necessary to secure jobs in the wind energy industry.
This grant has also given the Wind Center at Mesalands the opportunity to meet the industry's need for highly skilled workers in the utility wind operations and maintenance industry, the college says.
In January 2011, Mesalands was awarded $523,751 for the Wind Center of Excellence grant. These funds were a result of the State Energy Sector Partnership Program, as authorized by the ARRA grant awarded through the U.S Department of Labor.
Mesalands has used these funds to develop short-term certification programs, including a one-semester program resulting in an occupational certificate in wind energy technology. Students in this program received grants to cover the cost of tuition, fees, equipment and supplies.
Mesalands has a 1.5 MW GE wind turbine adjacent to the Wind Center, where students receive hands-on training and troubleshooting experience. The turbine is also used for research projects in the future advancement of wind energy.
In addition, through the Wind Center of Excellence grant, the college partnered with the Central New Mexico Workforce Training Center in Albuquerque, N.M., to provide a free course – Introduction to Wind Energy – to area students. This course included a day of hands-on training at the Mesalands campus.
Mesalands also partnered with Clovis Community College in Clovis, N.M., to offer free tower rescue training at the Wind Center for their wind energy students.