Frostburg State University was one of six colleges and universities recognized by the Appalachian Regional Commission in the report “Green Schools and Sustainability in Appalachia: Case Studies in Rural Practice,” which illustrates how they are providing critical leadership and training for the emerging green energy industry and helping communities develop markets for green products and services. The publication highlights best practices in Appalachian colleges that are environmentally sustainable themselves and foster education-community partnerships to support local economic growth.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl said that the report was “part of ARC’s ongoing energy initiative started in 2006 with the publication of the commission’s energy plan for the Appalachian region, “Energizing Appalachia: A Regional Blueprint for Economic and Energy Development.” Each school cited in the report, he added, is “providing a great education for their students, who will be prepared to help their communities make transitions to greener economies.”
According to the report, research indicates that energy-efficiency investments could create 77,000 new jobs in Appalachia by 2030 while cutting projected energy use by 24 percent. This would result in energy savings of more than $21 billion in the region. In addition, a projected 70,000 renewable-energy jobs could be created in Appalachia as a result of the production of 74 GW of renewable energy nationally.
Highlighted in the ARC report was FSU’s Wind-Solar Energy (WISE) program, which offers a not-for-credit, two-stage program designed to reach non-traditional students; it provides participants with the knowledge needed to install residential wind and solar systems. The online component of the course is divided into eight sessions that cover the basics of wind and solar power and their applications in the residential environment. The on-site workshop offers an intensive introduction to the practical world of installing these systems.
Dr. Oguz A. Soysal, the program director and one of the program’s founders and managers, is also a professor of electrical engineering in Frostburg’s Department of Physics and Engineering. He prepared the online curriculum based on a broad range of reference sources.
“In terms of knowledge background,” he said, “we have people who have no technical background and people with electrical engineering degrees and post-docs.” Faculty members for the hands-on part of the workshop primarily come from private industry, ensuring that students receive real-world instruction. The University also has adequate technology on hand for demonstrating the installation techniques, including a residential-scale wind turbine and solar array.
To date, nearly 200 individuals have completed the program, which has been offered twice a year since fall 2007. Many graduates have gone directly into renewable energy fields, while others have used the knowledge to supplement their careers or install systems in their homes or businesses. In spring 2009, 40 students took the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners certificate of knowledge exam administered by FSU and 36 passed.
For more information about the report, go to http://www.arc.gov/assets/research_reports/
For more information about the WISE program, visit www.frostburg.edu/renewable or e-mail email@example.com.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity.