Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education
NSF ATE Award # 2000714

Spring 2021

New REopt Lite Energy Modeling Curriculum Materials

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's REopt Lite™ is a free web tool that enables anyone to evaluate the economic viability of grid-connected PV, wind, battery storage, and combined heat and power at a site, identify system sizes and battery dispatch strategies to minimize energy costs, and estimate how long a system can sustain critical load during a grid outage.

Use new REopt Lite curriculum materials to teach your students to perform their own energy modeling and system optimization. Content includes a user guide, tutorials, webinars, and practice exercises. Advanced users can access training and example scripts for the REopt Lite Application Programming Interface and open source software.

Learn more about REopt Lite’s new CHP modeling capabilities on a Clean Energy Group Resilient Power Project webinar on Tuesday, March 2 at 2 p.m. EST. A webinar recording will be shared on the REopt website after the event.

For questions or additional information, email

The Solar Ready Vets Network: Positive Connections for Powerful Careers 
With strong leadership, organizational, teamwork and critical thinking skills, military service members and veterans are a highly valuable source of talent as the solar industry continues to lead job growth in the American energy sector. The Solar Ready Vets Network strengthens veteran solar career pathways and advances a nationwide pipeline of military talent into technical and leadership roles across the solar workforce.  Led by The Solar Foundation with funding from the US Department of Energy, the Solar Ready Vets Network connects transitioning military service members and veterans of the US Armed Forces with solar industry career pathways. 
Across several high-impact capacity building initiatives, the program engages hundreds of industry employers, veterans' organizations, and training providers to align military talent with solar workforce needs. Over the past year, the team has secured approvals from the Department of Veterans Affairs for all NABCEP PV certifications and credentials to be eligible for GI Bill benefits. Work is ongoing to expand veteran access to community college solar training programs, and to streamline solar credentialing in ways that recognize military experience. The team is also working to establish regional industry-education partnerships to improve training and hiring outcomes for military talent: over the next two years, at least ten partnerships will be launched in high-demand regions nationwide, and the SRV team is actively seeking potential partners. 
All interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to join the Solar Ready Vets Network to stay current on all program opportunities and resources -- visit to join.
Madison College Receives NSF Funding for Self-Cleaning Solar Panel R&D
In December 2020, CREATE received funding to support a new research and development initiative to conduct field tests of a self-cleaning glass coating for solar panel applications.  The coating was developed by Microporous Oxides Science and Technology, a start-up company founded by two scientists from the University of Wisconsin.  The field trial spearheaded by Madison College instructors Tim Hoege and Ken Walz, and their students, aims to support the transfer of the self-cleaning technology from the research lab to the commercial market.  Two hundred and seventy Philadelphia Solar panels have been acquired by Madison College for the field trial.  A new coating protocol has been developed by Madison College faculty and students using the school’s Auto Collision Repair paint booths and spray equipment.  This provided a controlled coating environment and improved the precision and reproducibility of the coating process.  Racking, inverter and balance of system hardware has been purchased for Madison College’s Commercial Avenue Campus, and installation at that location has begun. A request for proposals has also been issued for a solar installation contract for new PV systems to be built for the Watertown and Truax campuses, each of which will receive coated solar panels.  By summer, the college will have three field tests in progress:  i) A 10 degree sloped south facing roof mount system, ii) a 45 degree sloped south facing ground mount system, and iii) a 30 degree sloped vertical axis tracking system.  Data collection will proceed through 2022 to assess the effectiveness of the self-cleaning coatings in each of these deployments.
NSF ATE Grant Prepares Students for Careers in Building Performance and Energy Rating at Central Carolina Community College
According to the US Department of Energy, buildings account for 76% of electricity use and 40% of all primary energy consumed in the United States.

When most people think of saving energy in their homes, they think of lowering the thermostat, switching to LED lighting, or buying energy efficient appliances.  While these actions certainly help lower daily energy consumption, they don’t address one of the key factors driving up energy consumption in residential buildings: poor construction techniques and the lack of quantifiable measures to assess a building’s performance during the construction process.

In 2017, Central Carolina Community College’s (CCCC) Sustainable Technologies and Building Construction Technology programs set out to address this issue with the creation a High-Performance Building certificate.  Thanks to mentoring assistance from MentorConnect, CCCC was able to develop a competitive NSF ATE proposal, and was awarded funding for their “Technical Training in Advanced Building Analysis and Verification” project.  The first objective of the project; updating existing curriculum to focus on giving students a strong foundation in building science, proper building techniques, and building performance analysis, was achieved through feedback and guidance from industry partners. The second project objective; incorporating industry recognized credentials into the curriculum and expanding work-based learning (internship) experiences means that students now receive OSHA training and have the opportunity to complete 160 hours of field experience with local building performance companies.

As a result of NSF ATE’s support, CCCC has been able to better prepare students for careers in the growing fields of building performance analysis and energy rating fields.­­
CREATE Releases New Job Task Analyses
CREATE has worked with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and NextEra Energy to produce two new job task analyses for technicians working with Energy Storage and Supervisory Controls and Data Acquisition (SCADA) technology.  Each job task analysis was broken down into a handful of content domains, and then specific knowledge and skills to support each domain were identified.  The draft job task analyses have been shared with the industry advisory boards of Madison College and other CREATE partner schools, and they were recently shared and discussed as part of two industry workforce conversations held at the Midwest Renewable Energy Summit in January 2021. By helping to align academic curriculum with workforce needs, the job task analyses will assist schools seeking to integrate energy storage and SCADA technology into energy education programs.  The draft job task analyses can be downloaded from the CREATE website, and we welcome feedback as we continue to refine these documents.  Follow these links to access the documents:
CREATE Energy Storage JTA
Faculty Spotlight: 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 really 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.”

Dan and the rest of the faculty strive to ensure their students get advanced training quickly to learn the skills they need to make it in the industry.  Ultimately, it’s their goal to place as many people in the field as they can – where they’d be happiest, of course.

“The most rewarding thing for sure is when the students come back to us – many of them after their internships have paid for their college already – and they have a smile from ear to ear because it was better than they expected.”
Alumni Share Appreciation of Renewable Energy Program

Two alumni of the renewable energy technology program at Madison Area Technical College (Madison College) credit the industry connections and experiential learning opportunities that Professor Kenneth Walz makes available to students as essential for positive turns in their career paths.

For John Schwarzmeier, leader of the Systems Integration Group at SunPeak, the critical experience was presenting his honors project—a gravitational potential energy storage device he created—to the renewable energy program’s industry advisory committee in 2018. Afterward several employers chatted with him about his design, and a few weeks later he “was carrying panels on a roof” for SunPeak. His troubleshooting acumen and other skills helped Schwarzmeier advance quickly from an entry-level solar installer position to leading commissioning and maintenance operations for the company’s large solar energy projects.

Alex Thomas attributes his 2020 internship working alongside Schwarzmeier at SunPeak, where he too is now employed fulltime, to a sequence of events that began when he showed up to help with a research project. The optional field activity, which Walz made available to his renewable energy students, was to help him install a small solar array. It tested whether aluminum sheets underneath bifacial photovoltaic (PV) panels would increase their energy production and compared the snow melting performance of bifacial panels with traditional, single-sided PV modules. Thomas was subsequently invited to volunteer at RENEW Wisconsin’s Renewable Energy Summit in January 2020. There he met employers and leaders of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). During conversations he learned about a paid internship program funded by the Department of Energy that MREA administers with Wisconsin Technical Colleges. By late August Thomas had secured an internship at SunPeak.

For the rest of the story visit ATE Impacts:

Lane Community College Launching New Apprenticeship Program in Building Energy and Controls 
Lane Community College Commercial Building Energy Management and Building Automation Systems Associate of Applied Science degree program and the University of Oregon Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory are launching an innovative Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program titled the Western States Building Energy & Controls Apprenticeship (BECA) Program. The program will focus on commercial building energy management and building automation systems. The overarching goal is to increase throughput of highly qualified building automation and energy efficiency graduates who will be prepared to identify and implement energy-saving measures, including controls, in commercial buildings.
BECA is comprised of three main components:
  1. Related Training. Related training is classroom instruction, which will consist of the full Lane Community College Energy Management/Controls 2-year degree program.
  2. On-The-Job (OJT) training. The BECA will require 2000 hours of OJT. OJT can begin during the summer between the first and second year of the related training program. OJT is a paid position and is paid for by the Training Agent (employer). There are 4 advancement periods of 500 hours each where the apprentice will advance until 2000 hours are completed. Advancement includes an increase in compensation of 10% beginning at 60% of regional practitioner average compensation, which is identified by an annual survey of training agents.
  3. Comprehensive cumulative exam. The two exams are the Association of Energy Engineer Certified Energy Manager ANSI 17024 Accredited exam and the Association of Controls Professionals ANSI 17024 Accredited exam (in progress). Apprentices’ will select one or the other depending on interest during their OJT.
For additional information contact Roger Ebbage at: 
SCADA Project Moves into the Next Phase
The CREATE SCADA (Supervisory Controls And Data Acquisition) project is moving into its next phase.  Following a draft SCADA Job Task Analysis, creation of an Open Source SCADA Platform, and development of a curriculum module package which moved into the review stage this past fall, the CREATE SCADA project completed, beta-tested, and has now shipped eight lab equipment hardware and software packages to college faculty across the nation in the CREATE community.  These faculty reviewers are testing and fine tuning the labs along with identifying where and how these modules and labs can seamlessly fit into the range of renewable energy and engineering technology courses.
After the review stages are complete for both the modules and labs, they will be pilot tested at a small set of community colleges then released to educators in the latter part of 2021.  The six curriculum modules, mapped to learning outcomes, include SCADA Overview, Components and Functionality, Basics of SCADA Communications, Human/Machine Interface, Applications within Renewable Energy Industry, and Emerging Trends in SCADA for Renewables.  The five lab exercises currently associated with the SCADA Control Board include Network Configuration Using Serial and Internet Protocol Communications, Analog Sensors and Analog to Digital Conversions, Investigating SCADA Weather and Power Monitoring HMI Software, Working with PLC Ladder Diagrams and Passing Modbus Data to and from SCADA HMIs, and PV Solar Operator HMI Simulations.
Faculty professional development will accompany the release of the curriculum modules and lab exercises.   In the meantime, look for an upcoming webinar that matches the work of the CREATE SCADA and Battery Storage projects being planned in collaboration with industry partner NextEra Energy.  Florida Power & Light has begun construction on the world’s largest integrated solar-powered battery system!  NextEra Energy (parent company of FP&L) will lead a webinar useful for faculty and students which addresses both the battery technology and the controls system of the FPL Manatee Energy Storage Center.
CREATE Launches New Website
The Center for Renewable Energy Advanced Technological Education, CREATE launched our new website ( in February. This new site has a fresh look and user-friendly, interactive design. On the site you can find:
  • Teaching materials
  • The solar tool kit
  • Presentations
  • Publications
  • Recorded webinars
  • Program profiles
  • Events
  • News in the energy field
  • And much, much more.
Feedback on the new design is welcomed and we hope the new layout helps you navigate the site and meet your renewable energy needs.
Madison College Commissions New Solar Arrays for Student Instruction and Winter Field Research on Bifacial Solar Panels
Madison College received Focus on Energy Incentive grants and a Solar for Non-Profits grant from WPPI Energy to complete two new solar PV installations that will be used for energy generation, student instruction, and the gathering of real world solar performance data on bifacial solar panels. Unlike traditional solar panels that have an opaque back sheet, this silicon wafers in bifacial solar panels are encapsulated with transparent materials both on the front and back of the module.  Sunlight reflected off the ground and striking the back of a bifacial panel can result in an additional energy gain ranging from 7 to 25%.  The college’s  Reedsburg campus received a 100 kW solar PV system that will provide 50% of the energy for that campus, while serving as a test site to explore the effectiveness of different ground surface treatments and the effect on snow melting for bifacial modules in winter climates.  The college’s Fort Atkinson campus received a 150 kW system that will provide 100% of the electricity for that campus.  This system features a seasonally adjustable racking product with a tilt angle that can be varied between 15 and 60 degrees.  Recent results from a February winter storm event have already demonstrated the effect of tilt angle on snow shedding, with the steeper tilt providing clearly visible benefits. Both of the college campuses are within walking distance of the local high schools, and these solar installations will serve as focal points to expand outreach and bring more renewable energy career opportunities to students in these rural communities.
CREATE Hosts First Innovation Webinar Series
In fall of 2020 CREATE sent out a Call for Innovative Teaching Practices and Ideas to our CREATE faculty and schools recognizing that they are teaching in unprecedented times. Our goal was to be able to share these ideas with our energy community and educators through short webinars in the spring of 2021 and help facilitate better practices for the future. In February 2021, CREATE instructors Scott Liddicoat, James Horst, and Jenifer Clemons presented two webinars with a focus on technology resources and teaching strategies that have helped with remote learning in energy courses.

These webinars can be found on our website at under the Events tab. We would like to thank all of the faculty that participated and sent in ideas. The work that is being done by our faculty is truly remarkable and we are grateful for all of the efforts!

The CREATE Update

Calendar Events

$10 Virtual KidWind Workshops are back! 

The KidWind Project, the international leader in clean energy education, has launched an additional round of virtual workshops for this spring. The workshops are topic-specific and designed to help educators teach about renewable energy during distance and hybrid learning. Financial support from the CREATE Energy Center has made a number of KidWind scholarships available. If you are a 6-12th grade or community college science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) teacher use the coupon code, CREATE2021, and it will reduce your registration fee to ONLY $10!  That saves you $140! 

“Based on the great feedback we received from our virtual workshops in the fall, we added these workshops so more educators can gain the skills needed to teach about renewable energy as they navigate hybrid learning,” said Michael Arquin, founder of KidWind. “The workshops offer educators tools and resources to create hands-on, engaging lessons whether teaching in person or remotely.”

Each topic-specific workshop is six hours long and will have the same format. Workshops will start with background on the topic followed by introducing activities for the classroom to engage students in dynamic, hands-on learning. Educators will also receive a box of materials in advance for use during the workshop and a certificate of completion at the end of the workshop.

Energy & the Power Grid, March 13, 2021 and April 17, 2021: Educators will bring the power grid alive in the classroom while exploring circuits, power measurement, and simulations. Participants can register here.

Wind Energy Fundamentals, March 20, 2021: Educators will engage with the science and technology of wind power while exploring blade design, power measurement, and wind turbines. Participants can register here.

Solar Energy Fundamentals, March 27, 2021: Educators will dive into the science and technology of solar energy while exploring solar PV and thermal, power measurement and how to construct creative solar devices. Participants can register here.

Workshops and the materials used are geared toward middle school and high school teachers, and no prior knowledge of wind or solar energy is required. Participants will need a stable internet connection and dedicated space in which to work.

In addition to educators being able to register individually for a workshop, schools and districts that are interested in having 10 or more attendees can schedule their own virtual workshop for their staff. Educators interested in receiving a scholarship, can register with the coupon code, CREATE2021. Scholarship recipients who attend and complete all three of the workshops will receive $200 in bonus gear.

For more information and to register for the virtual workshops, visit:

About the KidWind Project:
The KidWind Project, an international leader in renewable energy education, has been working with educators and students to integrate renewable energy into classrooms for over 15 years. Since 2004, KidWind has held more than 800 training events for more than 50,000 teachers all over the world. For more information about our trainings, challenges and curricular materials, visit
 U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Collegiate Competition is Recruiting Teams
The U.S. Department of Energy Geothermal Collegiate Competition is now recruiting student teams! The competition challenges college and university teams to design direct-use concepts leveraging geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings, campuses, districts, or entire communities. Students gain real-world renewable energy industry experience conceiving a use case, performing a resource assessment and usage evaluation, and planning alongside community stakeholders.

The competition is open to multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students across the country. Participating students build valuable project development, design, and communications skills while increasing public understanding of geothermal power as a direct, renewable source of energy.

Watch a recorded webinar to learn about contest rules and resources. If you are interested in competing, read the rules, register your team, and complete your first-round submission by March 9, 2021.
If you have any questions, please email competition organizers at
NSF ATE Summer 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 April 1st and acceptances will be sent as received. Proposals will be either accepted or sent back for corrections and the website will remain open until the workshop 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: June 14-16, 2021

Location: Virtual 

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. Teams of two or three are strongly encouraged.

Stipends and Support: Each participant will be eligible for a $500 stipend upon the completion of the workshop. An additional stipend of $250  to each of two faculty will be available upon submission of an ATE proposal in the October 2021 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.
To register for the workshop, visit the website at National Science Foundation (NSF) Sponsored Grant Writing Workshop at: or if you have any questions about activities, please contact Dr. Kathleen Alfano at PI for Mentor Up and co-PI for CREATE.
CREATE Energy Webinars  
CREATE will be continuing our webinar series in 2021. Planned topics include Solar Photovoltaics, Wind Energy, Energy Storage, SCADA, Renewable Energy Employment, Innovative Teaching Ideas and the German Energy Transition.

Upcoming Webinars:
Tuesday, March 30th , 11AM PST/1PM CST/2PM ESTCareer Opportunities and Resources in Solar for Veterans  - Join us for a free webinar to learn about solar career development resources and initiatives for veterans! Solar Ready Vets partners from The Solar Foundation and NABCEP will explore solar workforce development trends, challenges and solutions particularly pertaining to training at the community college level. We'll review recent successes and upcoming milestones to expand solar career pathways for military talent, and offer a discussion on best practices to improve training outcomes for veterans in community college solar training programs. 
To register for the webinar email Gabrielle Temple at 

Past CREATE webinars featured the Environmental Defense Fund, and Meister Consultants Group on the report Now Hiring:  The Growth of America's Clean Energy and Sustainability Jobs, the Solar Foundation on Solar Hiring Insights, the North American Board of Certified Energy practitioners on Solar Industry Credentials, the CREATE Team on The German Energy Transition, Solar PV Battery Storage and Charge Control, and Renewable Energy During COVID 19, Dr. Mark Hanson on The Inevitable Solar School, Dr. Gregory Nemet on How Solar Became Cheap, Joseph Sarrubi on Energy Career Mapping, and the Center for Innovation and Visualization at Purdue on their Troubleshooting and Safety Simulator for Wind Turbine Education.  Recordings of these presentations and more are available for download at:        

Please visit the CREATE website to view recordings of past webinar events, and sign up for our email list to get updates as future speakers and dates are announced.     
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. 2000714. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.
Copyright © 2021 College of the Canyons, All rights reserved.

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