The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana received a $200,000 grant from the American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation.

The award will be used to expand and improve the College’s Power Technologies program to include a certificate program in photovoltaic (PV) energy and add a renewable energy lab yard that allows hands-on experience in solar, hydro, and wind technologies. UAHT is in the process of applying for program approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. Chris Thomason, UAHT Chancellor said

.“The project goal is to implement high-quality credential programs and standards in renewable energy, energy professionals and practitioners, and energy industries,”

Funds from the grant will be used to develop and implement a renewable energy lab that creates and enhances hands-on training and credentialing for a renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro) workforce across commercial, residential, industrial, and utility-scale renewable energy fields. Thomason said.

“The College will develop and enhance curricula, identify career pathways that connect training to jobs, and expose students of all ages to careers in renewable energies,”

The renewable energy lab project will add a renewable energy training lab as a component to the College’s existing Power Technologies program. The educational model is patterned after Solar Energy International (SEI) programs. SEI works with organizations seeking the benefits of renewable energy. Thomason added.

“UAHT plans to be the leader in industry training for renewable energy,”

The lab will be comprised primarily of photovoltaic equipment. Educational training in these areas will provide expertise throughout the United States to help power electric grids. Students will learn about diverse alternative energy technologies, including solar, electrical, wind, water, and energy storage. The lab training will help students prepare for an industry-recognized credential exam for direct entry into the renewable energies workforce.

In addition to solar, electrical, and energy storage, students will be introduced to turbine systems that can be installed and tested to demonstrate hydro and wind designs. Students will utilize replaceable equipment as they learn to design, create, and maintain the systems. The project will also introduce secondary students to the field of renewable energies through hands-on exposure to solar suitcases, wind turbines, and other portable types of renewable energy equipment.

“The solar power industry employs a varying and wide range of occupations in multiple major industry segments including research and development, manufacturing of solar power materials, construction of solar power plants, operation of solar power plants, and solar power installation and maintenance. Industry expansion in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas will create new renewable energy jobs.

Projections are for major growth in the future. Careers in solar power and other renewable industries generally require a combination of education, on-the-job training, and experience. Most careers require strong mechanical, technical, and computer skills. UAHT and AEP have long been partners in providing the best training available for energy-providing employees in our area. Thomason said.

We are grateful to be able to partner with them once again to provide the UAHT Renewable Energy Lab Project. This project will provide world-class training to students in solar product services and other renewable energy professions.”

Jennifer Harland, SWEPCO Manager External Affairs said.

“The AEP Foundation believes education is the foundation of brighter futures for our communities. Specifically, we support programs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), which hold the promise of future innovations. AEP and SWEPCO, along with our customers, are redefining the future of energy. Forward-thinking education programs such as this will not only provide students with vibrant careers but they will have the skills necessary to provide both clean and affordable power to their communities,”

The AEP Foundation provides a permanent, ongoing resource for charitable initiatives involving higher dollar values and multi-year commitments in the communities served by AEP and initiatives outside of AEP’s 11-state service area.

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