Wind Center continues free certification training

The North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands Community College will be offering a new one-semester Occupational Certificate in Basic Wind Energy Technology. This program is a continuation of the College’s successful short certification program offered for the past year, due to funds from the Wind Center of Excellence grant.

This week the College will have another graduation ceremony for students obtaining an Occupational Certificate, bringing the total number of graduates to 28. Many graduates of this program have acquired high paying jobs in the wind industry.

One recent graduate is now the Site Supervisor at the High Lonesome Wind Farm of New Mexico. Orlando Encinias, 43, from Albuquerque NM graduated in May from Mesalands and now oversees eight full-time employees, 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.”

Other graduates of this program have obtained jobs throughout New Mexico, Texas and in Oklahoma.

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.

Students in this one semester program will gain real-world training experience on the College’s on-campus 1.5 megawatt wind turbine. The College’s wind turbine shuts down frequently to allow students to receive realistic hands-on training and troubleshooting experience. Students will also learn wind turbine technology, turbine maintenance, tower safety, and wind economics. Course topics include studies in electricity, hydraulics, and mechanics.

“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.

Morgan said that this program is free to individuals that meet specific qualifications, as a result of New Mexico State funding from the New Mexico Wind Center of Excellence.

Classes start August 21 and end December 7, 2012.