Magazine article Techniques

Texas State Technical College, West Texas

Magazine article Techniques

Texas State Technical College, West Texas

Article excerpt

At the Sweetwater campus of Texas State Technical College (TSTC), West Texas, students may earn a certificate or an associate degree in the Wind Energy Technology (WET) program, which is designed to provide its graduates with the skills necessary to facilitate an easy transition into many levels of the wind energy industry. The curriculum was developed by the school's subject matter experts in collaboration with an advisory board of wind energy managers.

Doug King, one of the two instructors for the program, says that West Texas is in the center of development for the wind energy industry in the U.S. "We have some of the largest projects in the country," he notes. "The Sweetwater site is 1,000 megawatts, and the Florida Power and Light site is 700 megawatts."

TSTC students study in electronics and engineering labs equipped with new Windows XP networked computers and a variety of digital/analog electronics trainers/testers; electrical power equipment; National Instruments hardware and software instrumentation systems; Allen-Bradley programmable controllers; and an industrial machine vision system to provide the students with a real hands-on environment.

The program was developed to satisfy wind energy industry mandates, and in the first year, the courses include Introduction to Wind Energy, Wind Turbine Materials and Electro-Mechanical Equipment, Wind Power Delivery System, Digital Fundamentals, Industrial Automation, and both DC Circuits and AC Circuits. The students also take classes in topics such as professional development, computer applications, college algebra and composition.

In the second year, the courses include Programmable Logic Controllers, Basic Fluid Power, Wind Business, and Turbine Troubleshooting and Repair. The second year has a humanities/fine arts component and electives in communications and behavioral/social science. There is also a co-op internship in the final semester, when students are required to participate in a paid internship with local companies.

King notes that the school has a brand-new, full-scale wind turbine that was purchased from DeWind, whose parent company is Composite Technology Corp. It is unique in that it uses synchronous power rather than power electronics to connect to the grid, and is the first 60-cycle machine in the United States. …

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