The North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands Community College will again offer a one-semester Occupational Certificate in Basic Wind Energy Technology, free for individuals that meet the specific qualifications as a result of New Mexico State funding from the New Mexico Wind Center of Excellence.
The college is already this week graduating another batch of students who have obtained the Occupational Certificate, bringing the total number of graduates to 28, many of whom have gone on to acquire jobs in the wind industry.
One recent graduate, who Mesalands Community College has highlighted, is 43-year-old Orlando Encinias, who graduated the one-semester program in May, and is now the Site Supervisor at the High Lonesome Wind Farm of New Mexico, overseeing eight full-time employees and 40 wind turbines, as well as any contractors or repairs at the wind farm.
Encinias says he attributes his new career to the training he received at the Wind Center. “I will put it this way; I don’t think I would have ever gotten this position if I didn’t go to that school,” Encinias said. “This program really helped me.”
“Matter of fact, I’m looking to hire one of the guys that was in class with me. I don’t know him personally; I was simply impressed with his troubleshooting abilities, knowledge, and his intensity. I just happened to be in a position to be able to hire him and I ’m trying to get him hired right now.”
Encinias said one of the major advantages to this program was having the opportunity to climb the college’s turbine. He said that companies feel more comfortable hiring students that have hands-on experience.
The Mesalands Community College has a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine that allows students hands on experience. The college regularly shut the turbine down to offer realistic hands-on training and troubleshooting experience. Students also learn wind turbine technology, turbine maintenance, tower safety, and wind economics.
“The positive response to the new short program is indicative of the need for job training and employment. It is very rewarding to provide this training and then see the graduates have the opportunity to be competitive in obtaining employment in the wind industry,” Jim Morgan, Director of the North American Wind Research and Training Center said.
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