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With new programs, Savannah Tech is seeing and going green

POSTED: April 7, 2011 9:07 p.m.

SAVANNAH—Savannah Technical College President Kathy Love is seeing green everywhere she looks and she likes it.
“I’m convinced that we can continue to be a leader in green energy technology in Georgia and beyond,” she says. And, she’s likely to be proven right.

Armed with new master professional certifications in Wind and Solar Thermal technology to compliment already-held master certification in Solar Photovoltaic technology, department head and instructor of Electrical Construction and Maintenance Lester Wiggins is set to bring new expertise to campus in wind and geothermal energy.

“Two quarters ago, we incorporated wind energy technology into our classes and added a small wind turbine,” Wiggins said.

The turbine is positioned adjacent to the solar panels on the demonstration roof behind the lab. Both systems are connected to a meter that shows how much energy they produce.

“Students are amazed to see the power meter running backwards,” Wiggins said. “Then they realize that this technology really makes a difference in energy consumption.”

Wiggins brings an impressive array of skills and experience to the classroom. His recent certifications are from Unitec College in San Jose, Calif. A licensed electrical contractor in six states, Wiggins has held membership in the International Association of Electrical Inspectors since 1987 and held leadership positions in that organization for 10 years. He has been affiliated with the college since 1980 and employed as a full-time faculty member since 1994.

Wiggins and his colleagues have big plans for green energy technology. In a few weeks, he and his students will install at 28-KW solar system on the roof of the college’s Industrial Technology Center (ITC) to increase efficiency and reduce consumption in the building. The ITC is one of eight state-owned buildings competing in Georgia’s first State Building Energy Competition.

Additionally, a group of faculty members in the Industrial Technology division are working together to develop a new diploma program in Green Technology built around existing classes in electrical construction, heating and air conditioning, energy efficiencies and measures, and solar energy. It will be the first program of its kind in Georgia, according to Wiggins.

“We have to develop new state standards for teaching in these areas because we’ll be the first to have this curriculum,” he said.

And being first is nothing new to Savannah Tech. The college was the first technical college in Georgia to offer hands-on training in photovoltaics for solar energy installation. That first garnered a lot of attention locally, regionally and nationally. It was the photovoltaic program that caught the White House’s attention and led to a Presidential visit and major green energy policy announcement in the campus auditorium.

After visiting the college’s solar energy lab a little more than a year ago, President Barack Obama said at the time, “From the instructors to the students, you saw just an incredible enthusiasm for America’s future. And I was just talking to President Love about the focus of Savannah Tech on clean energy, the idea that this can be a real model for green energy as a way of linking students to the enormous job opportunities and business opportunities that exist in the future. These are the skills that will help our country transform the way we produce and use energy.”

Savannah Technical College continues to develop programs that support green energy technology education and training. The college currently enrolls about 100 students in the electrical construction and solar energy programs and an additional 55 are enrolled in Historic Preservation.

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