Are there four-year degrees in Wind Energy that would be a link to what I learned in an Associate’s degree? 

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Despite the current government administration relaxing air quality standards, the wind energy industry is thriving, due to the reduction in costs and the improvement in the technology. According to a March 2020 article in Forbes magazine, there were 60GW (gigawatts) of capacity installed in 2019 globally. The Global Wind Energy Report published by the Global Wind Energy Council stated that installations had increased by 19% in 2019 over 2018.

This year (2020), the industry anticipated an additional 76GW capacity – until the COVID-19 pandemic hampered the progress. Approximately 70% of the new installations were to be in the five countries that dominate the business: China, the U.S., the United Kingdom, India, and Spain. The post-pandemic months should cause resumption in the proliferation of wind energy.

Associate Degree

Individuals who choose to launch their career in this field may opt for an Associate degree. The majority of the programs at this level refer to a degree in renewable energy. One example is the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Renewable Energy Technologies at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, New York. The coursework prepares graduates for entry-level positions in the installation and maintenance of wind and solar energy systems. The preparation for work in these energy sectors begins with a curriculum that includes mathematics, physics, electrical circuits, photovoltaic systems, and turbine technology.

The New England Institute of Technology is another example, as it offers an Associate of Science in Renewable Energy. This program emphasizes electrical systems. Graduates are eligible to pursue a career as a solar installation technician, power system technician, electrical relay technician, electrical research technician, electrical distribution sales, electro-mechanical technician, and electrical technical support. Students have the choice of adding a term to further their knowledge of solar arrays, wind energy generation, and fuel cell technologies.

Wind energy, as an industry, produces a range of jobs for unskilled, skilled, and college degreed individuals. The majority are found on the technical side, which includes installers, researchers, project managers, and engineers. The latter encompasses a variety of specialties, such as aerospace, civil, environmental, electrical, materials, safety, and industrial. A bachelor’s degree in any one of these engineering disciplines could apply to numerous occupations in the wind energy field.

An Associate degree is not required to enroll in a baccalaureate program. Those who want to work as a technician or installer may not need to continue their college education. By perusing current job openings for wind technicians, the qualifications stipulate a high school diploma as the minimum. Some employers prefer an Associate degree. For example, a company in Hawkeye, Iowa, seeks a Wind Turbine Technician to operate and maintain a wind farm. Applicants must be able to troubleshoot, adjust, and repair low to medium voltage electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic components and equipment. One year of experience and an Associate degree is necessary for this position.

An Associate degree in renewable energy would be a stepping-stone to a Bachelor’s degree, although not necessary. The lower level degree would provide a link to concentrate solely on wind energy. Since the fall of 2011, Texas Tech (TT) University in Lubbock, Texas, has offered a Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy. Located in the Great Plains Wind Corridor, Lubbock is home to five of the country’s largest capacity wind farms.

The school labels the 120-hour program as one-of-a-kind because of the diverse curriculum. The study of the design and construction of wind turbines, atmospheric science, research, and government policy are examples of the curriculum. There are 67 hours devoted to wind energy and wind energy electives. The range of courses affords more employment opportunities, for example, jobs in site location research, weather forecasting, financial analyst, or government liaison.

The A.A.S. in Wind Energy Technology at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, New Mexico, does provide a link to an undergraduate degree, such as at Texas Tech. With the focus on wind energy, students obtain a foundation in turbine placement, turbine systems, maintenance, mechanical systems, digital electronics, and electrical theory. This program will not appeal to those with acrophobia (fear of heights) since students will climb to the top of the school’s wind turbine!

Courses at Mesalands in mathematics, generators, maintenance, electrical theory, and hydraulics equip students with the mechanics of wind turbines. By a comprehensive understanding of the inner-workings of the device, this knowledge links to and complements science and engineering classes at the undergraduate level. Think of an exotic seven-figure automobile, such as the Bugatti Chiron, which retails at three million U.S. dollars. This rocket ship of a car catapulted to a record 304.773 mph, thanks to its nearly 1660 HP!

The engineers considered the scientific factors in attaining the remarkable speed. They took into account downforce, drag coefficient, vibration, materials, torque, and more. Imagine these people as the Bachelor’s degrees of wind energy. However, knowing the mechanics (i.e., engine capabilities) required to exceed 300 mph – these are the Associate degrees of wind energy. The lower level is a direct link to advanced education.

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