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Impacts on Teaching Practices from a Solar Photovoltaic Institute Faculty Professional Development Program

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Energy Conversion and Conservation Division Technical Session on Solar

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Kenneth Walz Madison Area Technical College

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Dr. Walz completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in Environmental Chemistry and Technology, while conducting electrochemical research on lithium-ion batteries with Argonne National Laboratory and Rayovac. His studies also included research with the University of Rochester Center for Photo-Induced Charge Transfer. Since 2003, Dr. Walz has taught chemistry and engineering at Madison Area Technical College, where he serves as the
the Director for the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE). With funding from the National Science Foundation, CREATE seeks to advance renewable energy education nationwide by supporting faculty and academic programs in renewable energy.

Dr. Walz is an alumnus of the Department of Energy Academies Creating Teacher Scientists (DOE ACTS) Program, and he is an instructor for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Summer Institute, providing professional development for middle and high school STEM teachers. Dr. Walz has been recognized as Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and as the Energy Educator of the Year by the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education.

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Joel B. Shoemaker Madison Area Technical College

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Joel Shoemaker is a Wisconsin state-certified Master Electrician with over 18 years of experience with solar photovoltaic systems, and currently serves as a Co-Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE). He has been teaching at Madison Area Technical College for the past 12 years. In 2011, the Wisconsin Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards and the Wisconsin Apprenticeship Advisory Council recognized Shoemaker as a Centennial Educator. He has taught solar photovoltaic trainer programs offered by CREATE and Solar Energy International and led the inception of Madison College's STEM Educator Solar Institute for high school and community college teachers. Shoemaker will spearhead the design and construction of a model energy storage lab facility at Madison College that will be integrated into the existing solar energy installation lab and used for teaching about the interaction of these complimentary technologies.

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Scott Liddicoat Green Bay Southwest High School

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Scott Liddicoat teaches high school classes on Chemistry and Renewable Energy at Green Bay Southwest High School. He has authored numerous classroom lessons as a teacher trainer for the SolarWise for Schools program and the CREATE (Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education) training team.

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Cris Folk Madison College

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Cris, retired from full time teaching at Madison Area Technical College in 2017 after having taught for 18 years in the classroom and at a variety of business and industry locations in southern Wisconsin. While primarily an electronics professor, Cris also developed and delivered coursework and training for industrial equipment maintenance, general electricity, heating ventilation and air conditioning, robotics, food processing, interpreting engineering drawings, solar and wind energy, energy management and building automation. He was the Renewable Energy Program Director from 2012 until his retirement in 2017. Before working at the college, Cris served for 20 years in the US Navy as an Electronics Technician (ET), having retired from active duty at the rank of Chief Petty Officer with Enlisted Surface Warfare (ESWS) and Master Training Specialist (MST) certifications.

A life member of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) in Custer, WI. Cris began teaching with MREA in 2006 and continues to teach and develop courses in photovoltaics and wind energy as an IREC certified instructor. Cris lives with his wife and life partner Susan in a renovated farmhouse near Watertown, WI, employing wind, solar and biomass energy technologies to reduce their carbon footprint. Early adopters of sustainable living methods and renewable energy usage, Cris has presented at local events and has been frequently interviewed by the media as a subject matter expert.Cris volunteers as a mentor and judge for the Kidwind, SkillsUSA, Project Lead the Way and Electrathon events in the Midwest. He continues to teach industrial electricity topics for local businesses and industries as a private contractor on an as needed basis, and remains active with Madison College faculty teaching with the CREATE Solar Academy classes every summer.

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The Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE) and Madison Area Technical College have run a Solar Photovoltaic Institute for STEM Educators for the past three years. The institute provides three days of intensive professional development for high school and two-year college instructors who seek to incorporate solar photovoltaic technology into their curriculum. Participants work with the tools of the trade to install and commission residential sized solar arrays, including sloped roof, flat roof, and dual axis tracking systems. Instruction includes electrical fundamentals, code compliance, and safe workplace practices. The outdoor hands-on instruction is complemented with several smaller bench scale lessons and activities that can be replicated easily in the classroom. In 2017, CREATE and Madison College conducted a follow-up study to assess the impacts of the Solar Institute on the participants’ teaching practices. The results showed significant changes to participants’ curriculum and instruction. The findings yielded several useful lessons learned, and recommendations for future faculty professional development programs in the STEM fields are suggested.

Walz, K., & Shoemaker, J. B., & Liddicoat, S., & Folk, C. (2018, June), Impacts on Teaching Practices from a Solar Photovoltaic Institute Faculty Professional Development Program Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30609

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