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Four students and a professor – Renewable Generation Technology at BSC

I love the world of education. Back in the day, I used to be a teacher. However, my career led me down other paths, away from the classroom. I’ve enjoyed the work that I’ve done since then, but hanging out with some college students this morning gave me a sharp pang. I *miss* those days of being surrounded by youth, eager to make an impact on the world. The students I met with today were no exception. They are bright collaborators approaching graduation and careers in renewable energy. Solar and wind, to be exact. (Read more about solar and wind power at official GPEC website – www.energynd.com).

From left to right: Erik Pearson, Randy Bittner, Jeff Salmon and Alex Coutts. About to graduate and change the world of renewable energy!

Here they are: Erik Peterson, Randy Bittner, Jeff Salmon, and Alex Coutts. They’re enrolled in Bismarck State College’s Renewable Generation Technology program at the National Energy Center of Excellence (NECE). Their professor is Reynold Miller, an industry professional who, when he came on board at NECE in 2010, brought 22 years of experience as an electrician, a specialist in electric motor and control and wind technology.

I came to Reynold because I needed help with solar energy. I don’t know much about it, so he invited me to their lab this morning. Reynold guided the students through a very hands-on process that had the students switching wires around, plugging stuff in, reading meters and handling tools, and that led eventually to them throwing a switch and being able to see the solar panels start working before their very eyes. I tried to follow what Reynold was telling them, and besides the reminders of safety protocol, which I understood, the rest was pretty technical. I guess if you want to know how it’s done, you’d better sign up for a class.

Renewable Generation Technology professor, Reynold Miller (in plaid shirt) instructs his students during the solar panel lab session.

Right now, enrollment stands at 14-21 students through the next few semesters. Some are online, some are in the classroom. Reynold’s got his hands full with classes, developing lab work, lecturing, and putting together an advisory council of industry professionals that will help him guide his curriculum to get his students the best experience possible. In my conversation with Reynold, I could see how proud he was of his students. These four are going to be part of the first graduating class from the Renewable Generation Technology program. They graduate in May, and most have started looking for jobs already. Thanks to a good teacher and mentor, they’ll be qualified for a good and growing career. And thanks to Reynold’s constant focus, they’ll do it safely!

I can only imagine that this industry will grow and grow, and NECE’s Renewable Generation program will grow with it. I asked Reynold if he felt the same. He said, “I’m not in renewables because I’m an environmentalist. I believe there’s room for all energy technologies. But with the push toward renewables, not just in America, but worldwide, this program is going to grow and grow.”

After he said this, he chuckled a little bit to himself. I could almost see the wheels spinning inside this very busy man’s head.

The staff gift exchange is coming up for the Holidays. I think I’ll try to find a cloning kit for Reynold.

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