Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education
NSF ATE Award # 1600934

Spring 2018

Madison College Student Presents Energy Storage Research at NSF ATE Conference
In October 2017, John Schwarzmeier represented Madison Area Technical College at the Advanced Technological Education Principal Investigators Conference in Washington D.C, where he showcased an energy storage project as a student presenter and panelist.
His project examines a dilemma in the industry that arguably everyone will encounter: How do we gather and store energy from sources like solar or wind, so that it can be used at times when those sources aren't readily available?
"If we're going to rely on renewable energy sources for a lot of our power, we're going to need a way to store all of this energy when it's available, like when the sun is shining, or when the wind is blowing", says Shwarzmeier. That way, even when those intermittent sources are not available, the stored energy can be released  when people need it. "Gravitational potential energy storage, is a seemingly simple idea”, says Schwarzmeier. “If you lift a mass against gravity to a certain height, you are effectively storing potential energy."
And so his project on gravitational potential energy storage was born!
...Well, not quite.
Schwarzmeier's project wasn't created purely out of thin air. As a student enrolled in Ken Walz's renewable energy course at Madison Area Technical College, Schwarzmeier was tasked with completing an end-of-semester independent project. He found the concept of gravitational potential energy storage through his research and ran with it.
"This concept is basically using renewable energy to pump water beneath a large rock piston, so that it lifts the piston up and stores potential energy. Then you're able to open a valve and release this system, so that the big piston lowers and forces water through a series of turbines to generate the power. I built a small-scale model of this idea using pvc pipes and small electrical components that I was able to get at a hardware store."
The overall experience of attending the conference was undeniably valuable, says Schwarzmeier. Getting the chance to network and learn from others in the industry who share his passion has inspired Schwarzmeier.  In December, he presented his work as part of the Madison College honors competition, and took first prize honors, with the opportunity to represent the college at the National Collegiate Honors Conference next summer.

Schwarzmeier is currently employed by SunPeak, a Wisconsin based solar developer, where he is engaged in project coordination and operations work while he completes his education.  In the meantime, he plans on continuing his energy storage research by re-engineering the system on a larger scale with more functionality.
To all others looking to follow a similar path, Schwarzmeier stresses the importance of project-based learning. It provides experiences and lessons that cannot be gained simply studying from a textbook. Plus, there are valuable networking opportunities like those that Schwarzmeir experienced by presenting his work through public speaking platforms.
"You just never know where a research project can lead."
And if there's anyone that can prove the validity of that statement, it's definitely John Schwarzmeier.
KidWind Challenge Season Heats UP!
As the world is increasingly powered by wind energy, it is more critical than ever that we develop a workforce and public who understands the complexities of this new power generation. For more than 15 years, KidWind has been committed to teaching the world about wind through curricula, materials, and the KidWind Challenge. student design competition.
The KidWind Challenge is a hands-on wind turbine design competition that engages students in grades 4-12 in investigative inquiry through the lens of wind energy. For the competition, teams bring wind turbines that they designed and built, and they test their performance in powerful 4-foot tall wind tunnels. Teams also engage in a variety of challenges to gauge their on-the-spot engineering and problem-solving skills. Students then  present to the judges about their design and construction process, and their knowledge of  energy generation and consumption.  
This video tells it all.
Since 2009, KidWind Challenge events have been successfully implemented in 22 states, often culminating in a national event. Over the past 8 years, roughly 15,000 students have competed in more than 150 events.
The 2016-17 season was one for the books!  23 teacher workshops helped educators teach their students about wind power, and prepared them to host KidWind Challenges, which resulted in 24 local challenges in 17 states. The season culminated with the 2017 National KidWind Challenge at AWEA’s WINDPOWER event in Anaheim, CA. Meet some of the 400+
students who attended the National Challenge here. Or better yet, hear what they have to say about wind power here.
KidWind’s impact also goes far beyond the students who attend the local or national challenge. More than 70 percent of the educators who attend our educator workshops use KidWind lessons and materials in their classrooms to expose students to wind energy concepts and technologies. During the 2016-17 season alone, KidWind initiatives impacted more than over 35,000 students across the country.
The 2018 season for KidWind looks to be just as busy.  30 KidWind state Challenges are planned, and the National  KidWind Challenge will be held at AWEA WINDPOWER in Chicago in from May 8-10, 2018. The event will be co-located with the
DOE’s Collegiate Wind Competition.

KidWind is proud to work with the Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education (CREATE), their partners, and the teachers they impact. Some of our earliest workshops were held in partnership with the CREATE team and, to this day, one of the largest KidWind Challenges held was started by CREATE teachers in Southern California.

We can’t wait to see what this KidWind Challenge season will bring! The challenge teams’ wind turbine designs make the event; we just bring together the right ingredients. The coaches and parents are always committed. And each year, the turbines seem to get more innovative, and the students more knowledgeable and competitive. Who’s ready?
Michael Arquin
Director, KidWind Project
CREATE Teacher Scott Liddicoat Emphasizes the Importance of Energy Efficiency for Students
As a high school teacher of over 30 years, it's probably safe to say that Scott Liddicoat has teaching about biology, chemistry, and energy down to a science (pun intended).
Liddicoat has been training teachers to develop and teach renewable energy concepts since 2004.  In 2010, he got the opportunity to develop a class about energy conservation (dubbed "the energy class" by students) and he's been teaching the course each year since at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
But last summer, it was Liddicoat’s turn to be the student at the Summer Energy Educator Series (SEES) Workshop at Lane Community College.
"The workshop greatly expanded everything that I already knew. I had been having students examine energy use in our school buildings for years, but the SEES workshop broadened the concepts that I can talk about, in everything that I do within the energy curriculum that I teach."
The CREATE workshops do an excellent job of taking a broad subject and condensing it down into a few days where every teacher who attends can find something value, according to Liddicoat. For some, it helps them see the big picture of what a well-rounded curriculum looks like. For him, the workshop helped to fill in "little bits and pieces that fit in to what I'm already doing, and that will strengthen how I teach." Liddicoat is excited to add data logging devices that monitor temperature, lighting, room occupancy, and the energy used in buildings.  He feels that is the most valuable thing he learned, and will be adding that to the curriculum in the energy class he teaches.
For other teachers looking to start teaching about renewable energy and energy efficiency, Liddicoat stresses the importance of being proactive and being the person to initiate the conversation on campus. Reaching out to and building relationships with local universities and technical colleges is a great place to start, as well as with other teachers who are already doing similar things.
As for Liddicoat, he plans to keep teaching students about the importance of energy conservation. The crux of why he believes in saving energy and promoting renewable resources has become a mantra he repeats to students who take the energy class: Money, resources, and pollution. When energy is saved, so is money, natural resources are preserved, and pollution from those resources is never created, "and there's a place around the table for everybody in that equation."
“Energy governs so much of what is going on in our environment today. Without learning about energy, we really suffer in our understanding of how the world works."
Student Alumni Profile: Emily St. Clair Delaware Technical College
Don't be surprised when you see Emily St. Clair making waves in the renewable energy industry.
St. Clair has been working at the Delaware Department of National Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Energy and Climate, as an energy planner for the past two years. She also manages $19 million annually in grant money, and was the first to promulgate the Energy Efficiency Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification regulations in the state.
St. Clair’s journey started when a counselor recommended she observe a class in Delaware Technical College's renewable energy program. At the time, she was 22 weeks pregnant.
St Clair ended up registering for the program the next day, and she has never looked back. During her time in college, she completed three internships, was offered a full-time job, had her baby, and obtained two degrees: The first in renewable energy with a concentration in solar, and the second in energy management.
"I think that my favorite thing about Delaware Tech was the class sizes. Students actually had one on one conversations with their teachers, and the instructors were able to deliver personalized instruction. I think that was one of the most valuable things," she says.  "As a result, students were able to more quickly grasp a fundamental knowledge of the energy field right from the very beginning."
It's that very fundamental knowledge that she uses every day at work. Now, St. Clair is aiming to one day be the director of her division.
"Delaware is a small enough state where I truly believe that one person can make a difference. That's why I wanted to work for the state, so I can drive the policy and the regulations that shape energy," says St. Clair.  "The policy in Delaware happens right here where I sit. That's why I came here — to be a part of that."

At the rate she's going, many more good things will be coming soon!
New Solar Certifications to Support Industry Growth
NABCEP, the well-established and widely recognized national certification organization for professionals in the field of renewable energy, recently announced three new specialty certifications to complement its PV Installation Professional Certification. Developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative, the new certifications are: PV Design Specialist, PV Installer Specialist, and PV Commissioning & Maintenance Specialist. The new certifications reflect specialization in the PV Industry and will be offered via computer-based testing (CBT) at over 600 test sites within U.S. & Canada beginning January 3rd, 2018.
According to Shawn O’Brien, Executive Director of NABCEP, achieving specialty certification demonstrates that PV professionals possess the advanced training, knowledge, and competencies required for their job while conveying that they have earned an externally validated and rigorously developed certification. “We developed our PV Installation Professional Certification in 2002 as a way to certify PV installers who do it all; they can design, install, operate, commission, and maintain PV systems,” says O’Brien. “As the PV industry has matured, we noticed that job specialization within the PV industry was becoming the new norm. We developed these certifications with the Department of Energy to reflect the changes in the industry and provide a way for professionals to earn a certification that attests to their level of knowledge and proficiency in their specialty.” 
NABCEP’s three new specialty certification exams will only be available via computer-based testing at any of Castle Worldwide, Inc.’s testing centers across the United States and Canada, while the PVIP exam will be available in both CBT and paper-and-pencil format. “We made the decision to offer these four exams via CBT, and more in the near future, to provide test-takers with more convenience, decrease their cost of travel, and reduce our paper consumption,” said Don Warfield, Chair of NABCEP’s Board of Directors. “We believe that offering more specialty certifications and increasing the availability of our certification exams will have a major impact on consumer protection within the renewable energy industry. Since many PV consumers have difficulty evaluating and verifying what they need, NABCEP’s certification programs are an invaluable tool for consumers to choose skilled and knowledgeable professionals while improving the overall welfare of the PV market.” 
NABCEP’s new certifications were developed with the financial assistance of the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. With the SunShot Initiative’s support, NABCEP will implement its new certification suite and offer testing services nationally. 
Student Alumni Profile: Jonathan Begay Navajo Technical University
Growing up, Jonathan Begay did not have easy access to electricity. The ranch where their livestock was kept had no means of water or electricity but their home, fortunately did. This was not uncommon, and  “life was like that on a lot of the Navajo reservations” according to Begay. Nevertheless, his father and siblings made part of their living working in construction, and so Begay followed suit.
Well, almost.
Begay originally planned to go into the electrical trades program at Navajo Technical University (NTU). It wasn't until he saw the course catalog that he found the sustainable energy program. Begay says he was drawn to the program because of his upbringing: Hauling his own water and growing his own food had instilled in him the ideologies of sustainability.
Begay graduated in 2006 and unsurprisingly, went straight into working in the field. Since he started working, Begay has worked for three solar companies and has done everything from carpentry, to masonry work, to photovoltaics, to electronics.
Despite having a long career that continues to be successful, Begay hasn't forgotten how he got there. A lot of his success, he says, stems from the fact that the program at NTU focuses on teaching students the theory while also giving them practical hands-on experience.  
"It's such a valuable program because they really stress the theory side of it.  Ray Giego, the lead professor for the program, is not only a good teacher, he also provides situational examples that you can relate to when you're out in the field. It's not one hundred percent book smarts, or one hundred percent field work. It's really a balanced mesh of both aspects of the trade," says Begay.
Begay returns to NTU regularly to speak to students currently enrolled in the sustainable energy program. He answers their questions, gives advice, and tries to help them on their way the best he can. His long-term goal is to someday become an instructor for the program.
So far, he seems to be right on track.

Solar Program Profiles Featured at CreateEnergy.Org
The CREATE Program Profiles highlight exemplary renewable energy courses and programs offered by community colleges across the U.S. In Fall 2017, CREATE focused on schools and faculty teaching an Intro to Renewable Energy course, and this semester we have profiled those teaching an Intro to Solar Photovoltaics course.

Each Program Profile incorporates a rich digest of statistics and information, including program information, example syllabi, photos of instructional facilities, plus an interview with the lead faculty member and a honorable alumnus. Excerpts from the most recent solar profiles are included in this newsletter featuring faculty and alumni interviews. 

To view the CREATE Program Profiles please visit the CREATE website at We welcome feedback and recommendations on additional programs or courses that you would like to see featured. Please email Gabrielle Temple at:
CREATE Teacher John Galisky Selected for Einstein Fellows Program
For most teachers, packing up and moving across the country to Washington DC, to spend a year providing advice to public policy makers may seem, like a daunting proposition — unless you're part of the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program, that is.
This year, long time CREATE faculty member, John Galisky, joined the prestigious group as an Einstein Fellow on Capitol Hill.
Galisky first found out about the program over a decade ago when a colleague at a professional development workshop said he was leaving for Washington D.C. to become an Einstein Fellow. Since then, Galisky has had an interest in the fellowship program. But between family and several other large projects he'd been working on, the timing never seemed to be right - until now.
Currently, Galisky is working with Frank Pallone, Jr (D-NJ), the Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. All Fellows share teachers' perspectives during the development of policies, and provide insight on how they might affect teachers and students. Although final policies are ultimately up to the agencies and legislators, the knowledge and experience that Fellows share is invaluable.
"The Capitol Hill fellows work on whatever needs to be done in a particular office”, says Galisky. “We all are teachers, so in a lot of offices the Fellows focus specifically on education issues. I have a particular interest in energy, so I am able to work with the other legislative assistants on workforce development and energy education."
This isn't the first time Galisky has done work as part of a select group of educators. In 2014, Galisky was chosen to participate in the CREATE International Project to Germany and Denmark. Group members studied how the German Energiewende (energy transformation) was implemented, and how it might serve as a model for the United States. Galisky led the CREATE team’s efforts to examine how k-12 education could feed into the energy workforce pipeline. That experience, he says, has helped Galisky greatly with his work as an Einstein Fellow.
"I'm looking at workforce development and education as it applies to the energy sector. Although it may not seem obvious, with those two ares areas, energy and education, there's a lot of synergy.  My work with CREATE prepared me to see where those overlaps and intersections might be. "
Further, the work he's done with CREATE helped Galisky see that any kind of transformation is going to be a result of education, labor, and government working together. It's this sentiment that drives his work as an Einstein Fellow to improve the future for energy, for teachers and students, and ultimately, for our society.
CREATE Faculty Interview: Ray Griego Navajo Technical University
It was when Ray Griego attended a renewable energy conference at UC Berkeley that he realized "this is the way it should be." That was in 1998, and since then, he hasn't looked back. Once he saw the possibilities, Griego says, he had to pursue it.
After being an instructor for the electrical trades program at Navajo Technical University (NTU), Griego decided to make the switch to teaching about renewable energy.  In 2001, he was able to get the program up and running; he then received a $300,000 grant from the NASA CIPA program to improve the curriculum for the NTU program integrating Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. 
"The reason that I went into the renewable energy sector is that within the Navajo Nation there is about 25 percent of the Navajo community that lacks access to electricity. I thought it would be a good idea to start a course to help the community members help themselves," says Griego.
What started out as a certificate program, has grown to the point where the university now includes additional STEM courses such as environmental science and geographic information technology into the renewable energy program. Today, it's a two-year associate degree program.
The program's goal is to educate as many people and students from the community as possible — not exclusively those formally enrolled in the program. To achieve this goal, students implement projects that are highly visible in the community, such as an electronic  message sign for which the sole source of energy is harnessed from the sun via a photovoltaic stand-alone 48 volt system.
"For me, the enjoyable part is when students are putting things together. When they're using theory and they're using their knowledge to design a system, and are able to correctly piece things together and then see that the system actually works. My greatest thrill is when I see students grow through that type of experience," he says.
Part of what makes the program unique, says Griego, is the fact that it's been in existence as long as it has — it was one of the earliest such programs in the U.S. Currently, he says that one of their biggest obstacles is getting enough students graduating from high school to join the program. But as long as Ray Griego is a teacher, he says he'll keep working hard to change that.
"As educators, we must continue to teach and promote renewable energy, and we need young people to get into this industry. We have to hand it over to bright, energetic young people. And I'm inspired to help young people to become the future educators in this industry."

The CREATE Update

Calendar Events

NSF Grant Writing Workshop for Faculty June 3- 6, 2018
Workshop Focus: The emphasis of the workshop is on learning more about the NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program and how to apply for funding most effectively. Faculty must propose a specific project to improve an ATE-eligible technical program in a one page statement of interest. Teams of two are encouraged. Statements of interest will be reviewed and accepted on a first come first accepted basis. Workshop activities will include informational presentations; planning and writing sessions with help from mentors who have had extensive experience with ATE and NSF; and time to network with colleagues from similar institutions around the country.

When: Arrival, Sunday June 3rd for evening dinner and orientation then Workshop starts Monday, June 4 through Wednesday at noon, June 6. Participants will be expected to arrive late afternoon or evening on the 3rd and the workshop activities will end by noon on the 6th. Detailed travel arrangements will be provided after workshop acceptance.

Eligibility: Full-time STEM discipline faculty from two-year colleges. Two faculty per college are eligible and teams of two are encouraged.

Costs: Travel (up to $500) and accommodation/food costs will be covered by grant for up to 50 participants (up to 2 per institution).

Stipends and Support: Each participant will be eligible for a stipend 
(in addition to travel costs) at the completion of the workshop. An additional stipend will be available after the submission of an ATE proposal in the October 2018 competition.

Ongoing Support: The mentor who works with you at the workshop will continue throughout the year to support your efforts to write a complete proposal. This will include creating post-workshop milestones, suggesting resources, and providing feedback both for proposal writing and in the award process.

CREATE co-PI Kathy Alfano is also co-PI for this Workshop project. The application is expected to open in February or March, depending on NSF funding. If you would like to be notified when the application opens, please contact Kathy at

This workshop is under review and pending funding.
CREATE Summer Energy Educator Series (SEES)

June 24-28, 2018 - Lane Community College - Eugene, Oregon

For a Renewable Energy Program to be most successful, energy efficiency is an essential component. Far too many programs don’t give energy efficiency enough consideration in overall program development. Why do we need to teach our students about energy efficiency? Because, if energy efficiency is not addressed upfront in the design of a renewable energy project, much larger energy systems will be needed to make up for the energy lost through inefficient processes and ineffective building operation.
The CREATE SEES one-week workshop provides participants with commercial building energy efficiency training to assist with the development of courses and programs. The SEES workshop will be taught by faculty and staff from Lane Community College. Lane is home to the longest running Energy Management Program in the US and has helped many colleges start energy related programs.
The SEES workshop will include:
  • Residential and commercial energy efficiency course content. Including curriculum, activities, and experience with course development.
  • Using your campus as a teaching tool (Living Lab).
  • Tools required for a successful energy auditing course.
  • The opportunity to network with other energy educators interested in developing similar courses.
Additional  information about the Summer 2018 SEES workshop and to submit your application after the new year, will be available on CREATE web page at
    Energy Institute for Teachers      
    July 16-20, 2018

The application is now open for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Energy Institute for Teachers

The NREL Energy Institute for Teachers is a five-day workshop that offers educators lessons and resources to integrate renewable energy and energy efficiency components into existing courses in subjects ranging from chemistry and physics to biology and environmental science classes.

During the workshop, teachers participate in a variety of activities tied to NREL research including:

  • Building and testing wind turbine blades utilizing multi-meters and water pumps
  • Testing solar panels creating current voltage curves using rheostats and multimeters
  • Determining the optimum form of lighting based on illumination, cost and power requirements
  • Chemically producing biodiesel fuel and performing quality control viscosity tests
  • Meeting scientists and touring the world class facilities at NREL.

Program Requirements

  • Participate in the one week summer program.
  • Implement one lesson in the fall or spring.
  • Local teachers receive a stipend of $250 for the one week program.
  • Teachers living 50+ miles away receive five nights of lodging at the Denver West Marriott
  • $250 for submission of completed lesson plan.
  • $300 follow-up funds for materials/supplies for lesson implementation.
  • Receive resource books and materials.
  • Receive graduate credit available through the Colorado School of Mines.

Here is the link to the application:

Any questions contact Linda Lung.

See Educational Resources for Energy Institute for Teachers lessons.

CREATE Solar PV Institutes

The Solar PV Institute is a three-day, intensive professional development workshop for educators interested in teaching students about solar photovoltaic technology. The institute emphasizes hands-on experience working with solar equipment and tools.

Participants will engage in lab activities that science and technical education teachers can use to integrate solar technology into their existing courses. The Institute is led by a team of community college and high school instructors with expertise in both solar photovoltaic technology and STEM curriculum design.
The workshop includes:
  • Constructing several working 1.6 kW grid connected PV systems
  • Using a solar pathfinder to assess sites for locating a solar system
  • Measuring the output of a solar module to produce an IV curve
  • Using the NREL online tool PV Watts to estimate annual energy production
  • Making a lesson plan to incorporate workshop material into a STEM class
  • $450 stipend
  • Travel lodging and meals provided
  • One graduate credit is available
For more information about the Summer 2018 Solar PV Institutes and to submit your application, please visit the CREATE webpage at 

Wisconsin Solar PV Institute
July 9-12, 2018, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI

Washington Solar PV Institute
Dates TBD, Shoreline Community College, Shoreline, WA

WEBINAR: State of the U.S. Energy Storage Industry
2017 Year in Review

Tuesday, February 13, 1-2pm ET

Made possible by U.S. DOE-OE and Sandia National Laboratories

The U.S. energy storage market experienced substantial growth in 2017. In this webinar, guest speakers from GTM Research will share insights related to recent developments in the U.S. energy storage market, including deployment trends, policy updates, and market outlook.
Presenters:       Brett Simon: Analyst, Energy Storage, GTM Research         
                         Dan Finn-Foley, Senior Analyst, Energy Storage, GTM Research.
Moderator:       Todd Olinsky-Paul, Project Director, Clean Energy States Alliance
This is a free event, but registration is required 
This webinar is a presentation of the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP). ESTAP is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity and Sandia National Laboratories, and is managed by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA). Learn more at

CREATE Webinars
CREATE will be continuing our webinar series in 2018. Planned topics include Solar Photovoltaics, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy Employment, and the German Energy Transition. Please visit the CREATE website and sign up for our email list to get updates as speakers and dates are announced.

The 2017 CREATE webinars from the Environmental Defense Fund and Meister Consultants Group on the report Now Hiring:  The Growth of America's Clean Energy and Sustainability Jobs, and from the Solar Foundation on the Solar Training Network and Solar Hiring Insights, are available for download at:   

Contact us at:
 Kenneth A. Walz, Ph.D.
 CREATE Principal Investigator
 Madison Area Technical College
 1701 Wright Street
 Madison, WI  53704-2599
 Office: (608) 246-6521

Gabrielle Temple
CREATE Project Manager
College of the Canyons
26455 Rockwell Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
(661) 362-3024

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1600934. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
Copyright © 2018 College of the Canyons, All rights reserved.

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