Green Continues to be Important Field

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Renewable energy technology used to be considered the wave of the future—but now we know it’s here to stay. As the demand for emerging technologies grows, qualified technicians are a necessity.

Since 2011 SFCC has offered Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees in Renewable Energy Technology with three emphases: Biomass Energy, Wind Electric and Solar Electric, plus a short-term Skills Certificate in Solar Electric Installation.

The programs include general education courses; a blend of renewable energy technology and industrial/electrical maintenance curriculum; hands-on lab experience; and internship opportunities to prepare graduates to enter the workforce in production, installation and maintenance positions.

SFCC’s Energy Innovation Center (EIC) (see box) also provides one-of-a-kind learning opportunities for biomass majors.

John Burns, Renewable Energy Technology director and instructor, says SFCC is redefining and redeveloping its programs to help students find active employment in the fields of biomass, solar and wind.

“My focus is seeing where we are today and where we need to be,” he says “We’re constantly assessing our curriculum to make sure we’re fulfilling industry needs and that our courses are applicable to students in the field.”

Since being hired in October 2013, Burns has been actively seeking partner companies within 100 miles of Sedalia to provide internships and full-time employment for students in all three renewable energy majors.

“Internships are part of required coursework,” says Burns, who teaches biomass classes. “I would love to see students complete internships between their first and second semesters so they gain practical experience, then finish classwork and their degrees. One of my goals is to show potential partners what SFCC’s program can bring to their companies.”

Burns has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Systematic Biology and almost 35 years of experience in the renewable energy and biomass fields.

“I’ve been in the trenches,” he says. “Now I’m bringing that experience to the classroom and to the EIC. Our Renewable Energy Technology staff is excellent; they also have years of industry experience and work hard for the students.”

SFCC’s Renewable Energy Technology program includes:

BIOMASS—The biomass energy emphasis gives students in-depth training in power plant operations, biomass chemistry and selecting fuels for applications, operating boilers and power turbines. At SFCC’s Energy Innovation Center, students in the biomass program can learn how to effectively manage a landfill and methane gas, and how to control the plant and other systems that monitor the power outputs.

WIND ELECTRIC—The wind electric emphasis gives students in-depth training in how to specify, configure, install, inspect, and maintain small wind energy systems. It prepares graduates for jobs as wind turbine installers or technicians, field supervisors, project or operations managers, engineers, or salespersons. A wind turbine on the Sedalia campus provides hands-on training for students.

SOLAR ELECTRIC—The solar electric emphasis trains students to design, specify, adapt, implement, configure, install, inspect, and maintain photovoltaic (PV) systems for residential and commercial applications. A solar facility on a classroom building on the Sedalia campus operates at capacity, providing hands-on training for students.

Curriculum for both the wind and solar electric programs covers all objectives for certification by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

The short-term Solar Electric Installation Skills Certificate includes only curriculum related to solar energy systems. It also will give students the training and practical experience required to take the NABCEP certification exam.

For more information about SFCC’s Renewable Energy Technology program, contact Burns at [email protected], Admissions at (660) 530-5833, or visit

Energy Innovation Center Provides Hands-on Training

People. Power. Potential.

Those three words define SFCC’s Energy Innovation Center, which was dedicated April 21.

The center, located on a five-acre site at the Waste Corporation of Missouri central landfill in Pettis County, has a three-pronged focus:

It provides educational, hands-on training opportunities for SFCC students who want to enter the emerging biomass job market.

It converts methane gas from the landfill into electricity to supplement college and community needs. The center currently receives gas from 34 wells at the landfill and can generate as much as 2.4 megawatts of electricity.

It offers an incubator for businesses interested in exploring new energy technologies. The college is pursuing innovative companies in the renewable energy field that may want to rent space for research and development.

“Our biomass students already have class at the center,” says John Burns, SFCC’s Renewable Energy Technology director. “It’s an excellent learning environment to prepare them for renewable energy careers.”

Richard Downin also has been hired as plant operator; he oversees the operation and maintenance of the generators and works with student interns.

Businesses interested in partnering with SFCC to explore energy advancements can contact Burns or Mark Kelchner, dean of Technical Education and Workforce Innovation, at [email protected]

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