June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Energy Conversion and Conservation
26.1330.1 - 26.1330.32
Renewable Energy Technician Education: Lessons from the German EnergiewendePreparing technicians for the renewable energy sector is a multifaceted challenge for educators,especially those charged with workforce preparation at the nation’s two-year colleges. Rapidtechnological advances, shifting economic policies, environmental research results, and evenideological debates actively shape and influence the demands and expectations for this sector’sworkforce, all of which impacts the development and implementation of technician trainingprograms. The need for industry involvement and workplace-based learning also presentschallenges for workforce educators of any discipline. The question becomes not only what do wetrain these technicians to do but also how do we effectively do so?To better answer these questions, a team of renewable energy educators, funded by the NationalScience Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program, looked to other nations tolearn how they had met similar challenges. Representing a mix of disciplines, institutional rolesand experience levels, the group undertook two rigorous study tours to meet with technicaleducators, visit teaching labs, review industry partnerships, and talk with policy makers andgovernment representatives in Australia/New Zealand (2013) and Germany/Denmark (2014).Germany in particular presented an interesting case. The German Energiewende – or “energytransition” – is an on-going, nationally coordinated, comprehensive undertaking that has threefundamental drivers: the development and deployment of renewable energy sources, anincreased and widespread implementation of energy efficiency measures, and the creation of asmart, flexible grid, all of which is occurring in a relatively short timeframe. As would beexpected, these efforts have driven the education sector, and in particular those concerned withworkforce preparation, to develop strategic solutions for providing workers for this shiftingeconomy.This paper – and subsequent panel discussion - presents the team’s findings concerning theGerman response to renewable energy workforce education challenges. Participant data wascollected through the use of surveys, formative reflective reports, summative sector reports andindividual participant research methodologies. Results include key takeaways, notably theimportance of energy policy on training efficiencies and effectiveness, the necessity and natureof cultural shift, and new methods for integrating industry into training programs, as well as thetechnical specifics of the changes inherent in the Energiewende, The compiled participant dataalso provides overarching observations, recommended best practices, and educator insights intothe similarities and differences in – and influences on – renewable energy technician training inGermany and the U.S.
Slowinski, M.Ed., M., & Alfano, K. (2015, June), Renewable Energy Technician Education: Lessons from the German Energiewende Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24667
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