Sunny Outlook for Job Training
Gifts preparing students for work in solar, wind energy fields
A new $18,000 piece of electrical training equipment that students began using at Gloucester High School last week can open doors to new employment opportunities, sophomore Brendan McCarthy and some of his classmates say.
It could also provide a needed workforce toward the future of the energy industry, says Tim Sanborn, owner of the Gloucester-based Cazeault Solar & Home company that is one of the donors backing the project.
Both the new training apparatus and a $15,000 solar system donated by Cazeault are part of an overall solar and wind energy program that’s now the focus of more than two dozen students in grades 10 though 12 at the high school, says Robert Devlin, who is teaching the program in the school’s electrical shop.
The solar-wind energy training system, provided for the school through a donation by local philanthropists John and Mollie Byrnes through the Gloucester Education Foundation, provides students the chance to gain hands-on programming and testing skills for installing solar panels and other system components as well as for wind turbine projects. The more elaborate solar panels being built by juniors and seniors will ultimately be installed on the roof of the school sometime next year, Devlin said.
“The idea is to diversify the program and provide as much diversity in electrical education as possible,” Devlin said, as sophomores McCarthy, Kory Hurd, Dylan Piscitello, Cole Benson and Joel Silva looked over the apparatus, which had a sample turbine prop attached and a medal hood protecting the solar panels at the top.
Devlin noted the program should not only give interested students a leg up if they choose a career in solar electronics, but if they explore higher engineering education.
Those opportunities were not lost on the students working on their project Monday.
“I think solar’s going to be taking over the industry sometime in the future,” said McCarthy. “We know the oil supply isn’t going to go on forever. Solar is becoming more and more the way to go.”
Piscitello added that, even if the students don’t make a career out of working with solar energy, the Gloucester High program will provide benefits just in “knowing how these systems work.”
“That’s important, too,” he said.
Sanborn said programs such as Gloucester’s solar project, one of just four now underway in schools across Massachusetts, can prove a boost for an industry that’s growing faster than schools and job training programs can provide workers. He noted that state and federal incentives for residents or businesses converting to solar energy continues to fuel a boom across the industry, including in Massachusetts.
“We have a shortage right now in terms of workers,” he said during a visit to the school Monday. “We can’t find enough workers to fill the orders we’re getting even now. That’s how fast we’re growing. This should provide a lot of opportunities for the students, and that’s great, but it’s an opportunity for our industry to work with our schools and help them fill our needs as well.”
For their part, John and Mollie Byrnes say they recognize the importance of the project, too. The Byrnes’ local philanthropic endeavors to date have included a $150,000 challenge grant to Addison Gilbert Hospital and a $5,000 grant to the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative from their Peter and Elizabeth Tower Foundation.
Mollie Byrnes said the couple are not only glad to support the Gloucester High project, but are looking to install a solar system in their Gloucester home next year.
“This is the energy we need,” she said. “We need more solar, we need more wind, and we need to educate people about both.”
Article Source: Lamont, Ray “Sunny outlook for job training: Gifts preparing students for work in solar, wind energy fields” Gloucester Times Gloucester Times 13 January 2016 3:00am Web 14 January 2016