When Kalamazoo Valley Community College graduated its third class from the Wind Turbine Technician Academy on June 30, some of the graduates were missing. "This is the first time not every student could participate because they needed to report to their new jobs before the start of today's program," said KVCC President Marilyn Schlack, "In fact, seven of these graduates have accepted job offers already."
Dr. Schlack congratulated the graduates and said, "Today is truly a celebration. These graduates represent the best of the best in an industry that values a highly qualified workforce. Our academies provide men and women hands on learning environment that is not always available in a community college. Their accomplishments and skills have been measured by what they know, what they can do and the problems they can solve. KVCC is a leader in technical training."
Derl Oberlin, Vice Chair of the KVCC Board of Trustees, called the Wind Turbine Technician Academy a source of college, community and statewide pride. Marilyn introduced U.S. Congressman Fred Upton, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. He called Dr. Schlack the most dynamic leader in our area and said, "She has identified real needs and has a wonderful heart. That is for sure. She wants to leave this place better than she found it and she sure has." Upton called the graduates pioneers. "This is a field that is going to continue to grow big time," he said.
Graduate Paul "PJ" Mielke said the six-month-long, 50-plus-hours-a week training program was "everything they said it was going to be." He compared the experience to joining the military because the group forged a bond through hard work and teamwork. He reminded his classmates not to become banana peelers. "Don't have someone else find your problem for you. Take the manual and figure it out," Mielke said. He called his fellow graduates honey badgers because the animals are the most fearless on the planet. "Be fearless, but stay safe," he advised. "Be relentless, but stay focused." Besides Miekle, the graduates are: Hunter Anderson, of Muskegon; Jason Clark, Hopkins, MN; Nolan Cook, Askov, MN; David Doheny, Tucson, AZ; Scott Fisk, Fort Wright, KY; Derek Forney, Merrillville, IN; Adam Jovanovich, Delton; Bradly Major, Vicksburg; Michael Ryan McLeod, Clinton Township; James Mount, Kimball; Patrick Tritschler, Dyer, IN; Steven Warwick, Roseville; Daniel Wood, Trufant; and Dawson Wurzel, of Atlanta, GA.
KVCC is a national leader in wind energy training. Its Wind Turbine Technician Academy was launched in the fall of 2009 and is the first-in-the-nation to certify the skills the highly skilled technicians. Wind Turbine Technicians are employed by turbine manufacturers and firms that provide operational and maintenance services as well as construction companies. The work requires technicians who are willing and able to travel at the direction of their company. The work follows service contracts which cover predicted maintenance as well as unplanned service. One Wind Turbine Technician is needed for every 10 turbines.