Western Nevada College News & Notes: Tech courses prepare students for sustainable energy jobs

Western Nevada College is offering classes this fall to prepare area residents for sustainable energy systems and solar/wind-generated power, and the timing couldn’t be better.

With Tesla Motors building a “zero footprint” gigafactory in Northwestern Nevada for production of lithium-ion batteries, WNC students can prepare for the jobs the electric car company is bringing, with two applicable courses:

ENRG 110 — Solar and Wind begins Tuesday, Sept. 1. Taught by Gary Handelin, an expert in the field, it covers the theory behind sustainable energy systems, and offer hands-on practice with solar panels and wind-generated power. Students are advised to have a basic understanding of electricity before enrolling in the class, which meets on Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

“No matter what job you might want at Tesla, this class will prepare you for what will be happening at the gigafactory,” said Emily Howarth, a professor of Electronics and Industrial Technology at WNC.

ELM 143: Wiring Techniques, begins Tuesday, Sept. 1. An electrical theory class, it will be taught by Gary Handelin on Tuesdays, 12:30 to 2 p.m. It will introduce the basics of electrical wiring, including wire termination, wire sizing, conduit sizing, terminal block installation, and wire splicing.

Students will also learn how to read and create electrical prints and become more prepared for any industrial environment, including manufacturing, alternative energy and industrial maintenance.

Handelin said the skills learned at WNC are applicable to other trades, including electrical and construction projects. Students will stay abreast of electrical generation and distribution as it changes to accommodate renewable energy.

Both classes can be applied toward an Associate of Applied Science Degree in General Industrial Technology. The classes can also serve as electives in other technology degrees.

Handelin holds a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree.

Tesla plans to produce up to 500,000 lithium-ion batteries for its electric cars by 2020 while using zero net energy. To avoid using energy from the electrical power grid, the plant will be topped with solar panels and the surrounding property will include wind farms.

Handelin said the growing impact of solar energy in Nevada is evident in a number of areas:

There are more than 108 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in Nevada, employing 5,900 people.

In 2014, Nevada installed 339 megawatts of solar electric capacity, ranking the state third nationally.

In 2014, $569 million was invested on solar installations in Nevada. This represents a 427 percent increase over the previous year and is expected to grow again this year.

Fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 31. For details about these classes, call Howarth at 775-445-3300, or email industrialtech@wnc.edu. For information about other fall semester classes, call 775-445-3000, or go to www.wnc.edu.


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