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

Spring 2020

Interactive Simulator for Wind Turbine Education
Purdue University is leading an ATE project team that’s developing an interactive 3D simulator and accompanying education modules for community college wind and renewable energy programs. The simulator supplements existing renewable energy technician courses by providing a platform to carry out virtual labs, completing troubleshooting tasks on a virtual wind farm, with emphasis on working safely throughout. The completed simulator will be an ideal resource for renewable energy programs with limited access to physical wind turbines.

The project team includes Purdue University Northwest’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS), Ivy Tech Community College, Riverland Community College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The team targeted wind turbine issues and faults common in the field to provide students with realistic experiences encountered by wind turbine technicians.

Troubleshooting within the simulator includes electrical and mechanical systems and teaches students to use logical methods to investigate and identify the root cause of system faults rather than “grasping in the dark” for answers. Students begin troubleshooting scenarios on the ground, using a virtual SCADA system to investigate faults remotely. After determining likely causes, they then select tools and safety equipment, visit the wind turbine, identify the issue and root cause, and return the wind turbine to normal operation.

At the end of the project, the goal is to have a system that allows for both remote and direct troubleshooting, along with systems to allow it to be used as a standalone by students, or customized by instructors to tailor special scenarios to fit their class. Additional information can be found at Any instructors who would like early access to the simulator are invited to contact the project team at
Battery Storage Modules Now Available On the CREATE Website
The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) has identified many reasons to combine energy storage with renewable energy installations including: “smooth electricity prices through arbitrage, managing evening energy ramps, mitigating the risk of curtailment, providing black start capability, [and] providing backup power.” Further, says SEIA, “Increased storage deployment can reduce grid management concerns such as the so-called “duck curve,” creating additional opportunities for solar deployment.” Driven by the sharply declining price of lithium ion batteries, Greentech Media reports that “storage can compete for as much as 82% of projected new combustion turbine capacity projected over the next decade” (SEIA, Solar + Storage.)
Spurred by these projections and the results of a survey of renewable energy instructors at the community/technical college level, CREATE applied for and received a grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the training needed for technicians to work on energy storage projects. The first part of this project involved a study tour of southwestern Germany, completed in May of 2019, examining Germany’s coupling of energy storage with renewable energy projects. The results of this study tour have been reported previously in this newsletter (CREATE Faculty Study Energy Storage in Germany and The German Energy Transition.)
The next step in the project is the installation of energy storage systems as part of the solar photovoltaic installation lab at Madison College. The school is in the process of acquiring energy storage and electric vehicle charging stations to highlight the potential synergies of solar plus storage for transportation (sometimes referred to as "Driving on Sunshine").

To facilitate the integration of energy storage technology in solar energy programs at other schools, CREATE has created a new battery based lab activity and teacher lesson plans for related skills and concepts.  The instructional materials have been piloted and validated at Madison College, and a recent webinar was delivered to introduce them to the CREATE community (see below for a link to the recorded video).  To access and download the energy storage lab activity files, see the Teaching Materials page on the website. 
Featured Faculty: Daniel Lutat Iowa Lakes Community College
According to Dan Lutat, renewables are "the bridge in technology to get us to a better energy future.” He says he's most passionate about wind. It creates jobs in rural areas, "lifts them up," is great for the economy, and it's good for the environment – just to name a few reasons.

When Dan retired in 2010 from 28 years in the Air Force, he found a new home in the Sustainable Energy Resources and Technologies program at Iowa Lakes Community College. He's been teaching there ever since.

But it's not all easy. The program's biggest challenge doesn't have anything to do with the curriculum itself, Dan says. It's that renewable energy programs across the country have trouble recruiting women to the field.

"The reason that's a challenge for us is because like other industries, the wind industry is a male dominated career field on the technician side. So what that does is it gives you lopsided problem solving," he says. "It's not just a gender thing. It's really a problem solving issue. So young ladies who have a desire to go into something technical and use their problem solving and creativity skills can literally write their own ticket in the industry."
Featured Alumni: Michael Leone Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Since graduating from the Energy Management Program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Michael Leone's been a man on a mission for the renewables industry.

Leone says his interest in renewable energy was piqued after realizing there were multiple inefficiencies that come with producing energy in the modern world, and that carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by switching to renewables.

From there, it wasn't hard to decide to get his associate's degree from the program at NWTC. He says that as a student, the program gave him hands on experience through performing comprehensive data analyses, energy audits for non-profits, and touring renewable energy facilities.

But one particular class trip to a wind farm changed it all. Looking at the scale of wind turbines and how they generate electricity sparked his fascination with policy for metering and how utilities go about pricing their services. It wasn't long before he took a leap of faith and moved to Washington with the goal of moving into energy policy advising.

"Every time I walk into a building, I'm always looking at their lighting and trying to determine if they have efficiency strategies in place”, says Leone. “Once you're trained with an eye for efficiency, it's all you ever want to look at. It's really helped to shape my view of the world overall."
Renewable Energy Learning Lab Added to Pueblo Community College
By: Jon Pompia
A year ago, NextEra Energy Resources donated 52 photovoltaic solar panels to Pueblo Community College to create a 20-kilowatt solar energy system and learning lab.
With more than a dozen wind and solar projects statewide, and two in development in Pueblo County, NextEra partnered with PCC to enhance the college’s renewable energy program, part of the industrial technology maintenance curriculum.
As a real-life, hands-on educational tool, the learning lab — connected to the Gorsich Advanced Technology Center — will play an instrumental role in developing a future workforce for the ever-growing renewable energy field.
“To put it in perspective, we have a $100 billion company who found their way to Pueblo,” said PCC President Patty Erjavec during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Who says that there aren’t great things happening in our community? NextEra took an interest in us and as a result of that, look at what we have today.”
Pointing out that learning labs are a foundation of PCC’s curriculum, Erjavec said students learn best when they do so “with their hands, their minds and their hearts. And so we’re very pleased to have this additional tool in our toolbox.”  
Once the system is fully operational in the spring, NextEra’s James Auld, said the educational horizon will likely expand. “But what’s exciting is what’s happening behind that solar field: all that data that’s coming in, data going out into what’s known as a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition or SCADA platform.
PCC students will be working in collaboration with industry professionals and scholarly experts from throughout the country to share the data from the new solar installation.  “Students are going to be working with that SCADA system", said Auld, "and using the data and analytics they can drive advances in solar technology." 
For the full story visit : https://PCCRenewableLab
New Teaching Materials Available on the CREATE Website

CREATE has developed eight teacher Solar lesson plans, student handouts, answer keys, and resources for each of the lessons explored in the Solar in-person Institutes CREATE offers.  Documentation is also provided for each lesson referencing the US DOE Energy Literacy Standards (ELS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Lessons are provided in .pdf format to preserve original formatting, and also in a .docx format that can be edited and customized by teachers for their specific application.

All files are "open source" and are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike License (CC BY NC SA). 

Visit the CREATE website at: to download the material under the "Teaching Materials" tab.

Solar Installer - Fastest Growing Job in Eight States
Solar installer is the fastest growing job in eight US states and one of the top 10 fastest growing jobs in the US. More than 3,000 of those jobs are in Wisconsin, and there is a growing need for workers. To address this need, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), in partnership with four of the Wisconsin Technical College System’s leading solar training programs, has launched an effort to expand the state’s solar workforce, with funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Wisconsin Solar Corps is a workforce development partnership that facilitates collaboration between educational programs, industry stakeholders, and solar contractors to support local career placement in the solar industry.  The initiative will improve workforce readiness in Wisconsin with replication of successful strategies in neighboring states.  
Solar workforce efforts in Wisconsin now have the support of the state’s top official. “We are proud of the solar job growth in Wisconsin. It solidifies our commitment to getting our state on track for a future driven by renewable energy that will make Wisconsin a stronger, better place to live, work, and play,” said Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. “We look forward to continuing our promise to build a clean economy that incentivizes energy innovation, diversifies Wisconsin jobs and energy sources, and promotes efficiency, affordability, and accessibility in clean energy production.”  
This vision is particularly important to Wisconsin Technical College programs that are training the next generation of solar workers.  “This grant is allowing our team of Chippewa Valley Technical College instructors and students to access best practices from three other outstanding solar training schools in Wisconsin,” said Adam Wehling, Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Dean of Agriculture, Energy and Transportation. 
As Part of the Solar Corps effort, the MREA will facilitate paid internships for newly trained professionals and provide on-site advanced training on high visibility, high impact solar installations. Currently, the MREA is working with Mid-State Technical College, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Madison College, and Chippewa Valley Technical College. In addition, MREA will host a Clean Energy Job Fair at the 31st annual Energy Fair on Saturday, June 27th. Representatives from solar contractors throughout Wisconsin will be present to discuss job opportunities and internships with interested job seekers. Wisconsin technical colleges will provide resume assistance as well as information about solar programs in Wisconsin.
Nick Hylla, the Executive Director of the MREA is impressed with the current level of hiring in the Wisconsin solar industry. “The MREA has been training solar professionals since 1991 and we currently provide training to more than 1,000 individuals each year.  We’ve never seen employment demand as high as it is currently, and we only expect the demand to increase. Pretty much every contractor is looking to hire.”  
Information about the Wisconsin Solar Corps can be found at
SCADA Professional Development Workshop 
In January, CREATE hosted 30 participants from 26 colleges and universities to participate in the Supervisory Controls and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Workshop delivered by Indian River State College, and industry partner NextEra Energy Resources, the world's largest generator of renewable energy. 

CREATE faculty met with NextEra power generation engineers and subject matter experts to learn about SCADA technology.  The day included a tour of the Renewable Operations Control Center (ROCC), which serves as the monitoring and operations center of NextEra Energy Resource's wind, photovoltaic solar, and battery energy storage fleet.  Participants learned about ROCC Operations processes including plant Start-Up/ Shutdown, Curtailment, Daily Work Management, Troubleshooting and Outage Restoration, and Energy Market Communications. 

The group also toured the solar rooftop Living Lab, and had discussion and Q&A sessions with executives and development teams involved with SCADA technologies, cybersecurity, wind, solar, and human resources. Thank you to NextEra Era Energy for hosting this event, and to NextEra Energy’s Director of External Training Initiatives James Auld for bringing it all together.
The following day at IRSC’s main campus included visits to their solar field, SCADA labs, two-story dynamic flow loop, and other state-of-the-art facilities between their Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Kight Center for Emerging Technologies. Workshop participants contributed to a draft SCADA job task analysis to identify key knowledge and skills necessary for the energy workforce, and a scoping activity laid the groundwork for forthcoming SCADA curriculum development to be completed in spring 2020.  The group also received the first glimpse of the new Open Source SCADA platform being developed by experts from Indian River and NextEra.  Thank you to IRSC for hosting and to IRSC’s Dean of Advanced Technology and CREATE SCADA Co-PI Kevin Cooper for advancing the project ahead of schedule.

The Job Task Analysis, Curriculum, and Open Source SCADA platform will be distributed to users in the year ahead.  CREATE welcome’s faculty to join us for future SCADA webinars and hands-on workshops being planned. Stay tuned!
The Inevitable Solar School By Mark Hanson

Why does the concept of solar schools appear to be so daunting?
The conversations surrounding solar schools, and more generally responses to climate change, give the impression that implementing renewable energy on a massive scale is a formidable, if not impossible challenge. This at least is the impression from reviewing television, print and social media. My question is why do we approach the task of reorienting our economy and implementing solar schools and other facilities with this bias? Are on-site solar design, installation, and financial analysis of renewable energy systems that complicated and too expensive to implement on a mass scale?
My response is a resounding "NO".  In am upcoming CREATE webinar, based on my book The Inevitable Solar School: Building the Sustainable Schools of the Future, Today (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), I will examine several solar schools that are near zero energy, and are being built at construction costs equal to or below regional cost average. These schools then have lower operating costs. The presentation provides examples of school solar financial analysis and implementation that should be ordinary, and must become routine, if we are to battle climate change. A solar school is also a living laboratory for renewable education.
The book describes the two major forces that are driving public and private schools and other buildings to solar energy. These forces are the recognition of climate change and the cost advantage of on-site solar energy. Either force would be sufficient reason on its own to change the school market, but in combination they become indomitable. Sustainability has emerged as a widely accepted theme in school building design. Daylight and views, indoor air quality, responsible life-cycle materials selection, and energy and water efficiency are expected features. This book adds on-site solar energy, sufficient in many instances to meet all of a school’s energy requirement, as a critical element of sustainability. The zero energy school is the sustainable school of the future.

Solar schools whether new or retrofit require teamwork between school administrators, teachers, students, governing boards, and their design and construction professionals, along with the use of deliberate planning and procurement processes. 

On February 24th,  Mark Hanson will deliver a CREATE webinar on the Inevitable Solar School.  For additional information contact Gabrielle Temple to register at:

KidWind Kicks Off 2020 Challenge Season!
The KidWind Challenge is a nationwide hands-on design competition that engages students in STEM through the lens of wind and solar energy. Student teams from grades 4 through 12 design and construct small wind turbines and solar devices that they test at local competitions. This year, nearly 50 events will be held across the nation including two new events in the Carribean! In addition to our event season, we are excited to share the following updates:

New Solar Device Challenge
After 10 years of wind-focused KidWind Challenges, we have broadened our offerings to explore solar. This year, teams can participate in a Solar Device Challenge by constructing a solar-power device and bringing it to a local event or submitting it to our online solar challenge. Learn more>
National KidWind Challenge at CLEANPOWER, Denver, June 2-4
Our 6th annual National KidWind Challenge will bring nearly 500 students, coaches and parents  to CleanPower to show off their design skills and learn more about renewable energy careers. Let us know if you will be at CLEANPOWER and are interested in volunteering! Contact us! >
2020 REcharge Academy - Rhode Island - July 13-16
The REcharge Academy is our flagship educator training program focused around renewable energy. The training blends lectures from experts and tours of energy facilities with replicable hands-on K-12 lessons. The 2020 Academy will focus on wind power, specifically the future of offshore wind. Learn more>

The CREATE Update

Calendar Events

6th Annual Wisconsin CREATE Solar PV Institute

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 2 kW grid connected PV systems
  • Behind the scenes  tour of the largest rooftop solar ystem in Wisconsin (1.85 MW)
  • 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 (estimated tuition cost is $60)
For more information about the Summer 2020 Solar PV Institutes and to submit your application, please visit the CREATE webpage at 

CREATE Solar PV Institute
July 7-9, 2020, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, WI

Washington STEM Educator Solar Institute 

Program Summary:  

Learn how to teach solar principles in effective, engaging ways in your classroom! Local STEM teachers can join us at Shoreline Community College for the Washington STEM Educator Solar Institute. Learn to install and commission a residential size solar photovoltaic array. You’ll perform hands-on classroom lab activities that will enable you to bring solar energy to life in your classroom.


When: August 11-13, 2020                                                                                                              Where: Hosted by Shoreline Community College


Cost: FREE, each participant will also receive a stipend upon completion of the institute. 


·        Three days of interactive, high-engagement instruction in cutting-edge solar   technology

·         $300 stipend paid upon completion of the institute

·         Lesson plans, videos and teaching resources to keep

·         Expert instructors nationally recognized in renewable energy curriculum

·         WA State STEM Integration Clock hours available

·         Breakfast and lunch each day


This program is designed for 20 instructors in science, technology, engineering, math, or career/technical training fields. Applicants should complete the online application form by the priority deadline, April 1, 2020; late applications may be considered if space is still available on a rolling basis.

Application Process:

The application includes biographic information and 3 short-answer essays about your interest or experience with solar. Selection will be based on how well participants will be able to fulfill the institute objectives, including utilizing institute lesson plans into your future curriculum. Priority application deadline: April 1, 2020; late applications considered if space available on a rolling basis.


To apply contact Louise Petruzzella at:

Delaware Energy Efficiency and Solar Institute
Learn how to teach sustainable energy principles in effective, engaging ways in your classroom!  Join us at Delaware Tech for the STEM Educator Energy Institute. At the Institute, you will learn fundamentals of Energy Efficiency and Solar Photovoltaics.  
You will get to use tools of the trade to evaluate solar locations for suitability, and gather and analyze to complete an energy audit of a classroom.
Finally, you’ll explore (and take with you) ready to use hands-on classroom lab activities that will enable you to bring renewable energy, energy efficiency and data analysis to life in your classroom.
When: June 30 - July 2, 2020
Where: Delaware Technical Community College in Dover, Delaware. 

$450 stipend paid to participants after full completion of the Academy. Hotel accommodations provided, along with breakfast and lunch. One graduate credit available (estimated tuition cost is $60).

To apply please visit the workshops page on the CREATE website at 

For more information contact Jennifer Clemons at Delaware Technical Community College:  302-857-1308
Illinois Wind Energy Institute
We would like to welcome High School and Community College Teachers of any discipline to learn how to teach renewable energy principles in effective, engaging ways in your classroom!  Join us at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois for the STEM Educator Renewable Energy Institute. At the Institute, you’ll use tools of the trade to install and commission a residential size solar photovoltaic array.  Learn about wind turbines and have the opportunity to visit the campus large-scale wind turbine! You’ll review and practice necessary safety measures and electrical principles. Finally, you’ll perform (and take with you) ready-to-use hands-on classroom lab activities that will enable you to bring renewable energy to life in your classroom.

When: July 21-23, 2020
At Heartland Community College in the Workforce Development Center
Hotel accommodations provided (for those out of town)   A light breakfast and a catered lunch provided. $450 Stipend paid to participants after full completion of the Institute. Continuing Education Units are available (estimated cost $60).   

To apply please visit the workshops page on the CREATE website at 

For more information contact Chris Miller at Heartland Community College: or 309-268-8855
KidWind 2020 REcharge Academy 
July 13-16, 2020 
University of Rhode Island Coastal Resource Center
The 2020 REcharge Academy has been announced! For one more year we will be holding our four-day Academy in partnership with University of Rhode Island Coastal Resource Center, WINDWINRI and the North Kingstown RI Chamber.

The 2020 Academy will focus on wind power, specifically the future of offshore wind. You can plan on packed days learning about the politics, technologies and economics of wind energy coupled with a range of engaging activities you can use with your students around wind energy. See the 2019 agenda

Once an educator attends a REcharge Academy, they are considered a REcharge Instructor for life and become part of our extended family! Instructors may just incorporate lessons and curriculum into their own classrooms, or they may go further and work with local schools and districts to share the resources they’ve explored or train other teachers in wind and solar.

Our REcharge Instructors are critical actors who can help educate the world about about renewable energy. They also help our team develop and test new materials and help KidWind hold over 35 KidWind Challenges. We estimate that each year our network of Instructors train at least 1,000 educators and impact 30,000 students through workshops and outreach events.

For more information visit: https://REcharge2020
NSF ATE Grant Writing Workshop
Workshop Focus: Participants in this workshop will learn about the NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program and how to most effectively apply for grant funding. Faculty must propose a specific project to improve an ATE-eligible technical program in a one page proposal. One page proposals will be reviewed from January to May. The first acceptances for the California workshop will be sent out in January and February. We will continue to review proposals after that as there is a chance that a second workshop will be opened on the East Coast if sufficient need is shown. Proposals will be either accepted or sent back for corrections and the website will remain open until the workshop(s) and a waiting list are full. Workshop activities will include presentations; planning and writing sessions with mentors who have had extensive experience with ATE and NSF; and networking with colleagues from similar institutions around the country. Two faculty from each college will receive stipend support.

When: Sunday evening June 14th, 2020, through noon on Wednesday, June 17th .

Location: College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, CA (Los Angeles County).

Eligibility: Full-time STEM discipline faculty involved in technician education programs from two-year colleges. Two faculty per college are eligible and colleges may also send a grant writer as a third team member at their own expense. Teams of two or three are strongly encouraged.

Costs: Travel stipend – Local stipend for each of two faculty from colleges less than 50 miles away $350 (mileage and per diem). Faculty from colleges more than 50 miles: $1200 (flight, hotel, per diem, ground transportation) for each of two faculty. Meals will be provided during the workshop. Stipends will be issued to individuals, not colleges. Faculty should keep all receipts, as a 1099 will be issued. A group rate for hotel accommodations will be provided.

Stipends and Support: Each participant will be eligible for a $250 stipend (in addition to travel stipend) at the completion of the workshop. An additional stipend of $250 will be available upon submission of an ATE proposal in the October 2020 competition.

Ongoing Support: The mentor assigned to each college team will continue throughout the year to support each college’s efforts to write a complete proposal. This will include creating pre- and post-workshop milestones, webinars, suggesting resources, and providing feedback both for proposal writing and in the award process.

Registration is open now. If you have any questions, please contact grant PI, Dr. Kathleen Alfano at:

Calling All Community College Student Innovators
Do you know a student with an entrepreneurial spirit and an interest in STEM?

For the fifth year, AACC in partnership with the National Science Foundation, is inviting community college students to participate in the Community College Innovation Challenge.
The CCIC is a prestigious competition where community college student teams, working with a faculty or administrator team mentor, use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to innovate solutions to real-world problems; earn travel support to attend an Innovation Boot Camp in Washington, DC; and compete for cash awards. 

The Boot Camp provides hands-on learning opportunities and coaching designed to build strategic communication and entrepreneurial skills—and includes a student poster session on Capitol Hill, and a formal pitch presentation at the Boot Camp in front of a panel of industry professionals, to determine the first and second place winning teams. 

Diverse and interdisciplinary teams that include students in STEM, business, humanities, and other fields are encouraged to apply.

DEADLINE: Submissions are due by March 31, 2020. 

What can you do?  
JOIN: Assemble a student team and become a faculty or administrator mentor.
SHARE: Help us spread the word and join the conversation online! Share this click-to-tweet.
APPLY: Encourage students to learn more or apply at

For questions, email

CREATE Energy Webinars
CREATE will be continuing our webinar series in 2020. Planned topics include Solar Photovoltaics, Energy Storage, SCADA, 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 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, from the Solar Foundation on Solar Hiring Insights,  from the  North American Board of Certified Energy practitioners on Solar Industry Credentials and from the CREATE Team on The German Energy Transition and Solar PV Battery Storage and Charge Control 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 © 2020 College of the Canyons, All rights reserved.

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