Our university, community college, technical school, workforce development, and community organization partners are united in bringing green career education and training to the region.
The Co-Op Experiential Learning program of Drexel University’s Steinbright Career Development Center is one of the largest and most respected co-op programs in the world. Drexel provides qualified Co-Op candidates in every major occupational field, including the new green-collar fields. Drexel students work for KETEC in whatever capacity needed. They bring fresh perspectives and suggestions to the organization and its clients that may lead to significant contributions to our region’s development. The advantage to the students is that they gain on-the-job skills and knowledge, and forge contacts and relations for potential permanent employment. This is a proven and effective way to develop high-quality future hires for KETEC’s client companies, and keep their recruiting costs down.
Drexel Co-Op students also serve as information gatherers for KETEC. They attend conferences and expos on green energy, green building, energy efficiency, clean coal, and more. Their summaries of what they’ve learned keep KETEC’s directors abreast of trends and advances in an ever-growing and fast-changing sphere.
The LCCC Northumberland Center in the City of Shamokin, eight miles from KETEC, is the College’s hub for renewable energy workforce development. In collaboration with regional high schools, universities and industry, LCCC’s energy technology curriculum meets requirements for the new field of green-tech jobs.
The SET Program provides training in renewable energy technology – an occupational trade designated as “high priority” by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. The Central Pennsylvania Workforce Development Corporation (CPWDC) has provided Federal stimulus dollars to fund student tuition and fees for the first cohort of SET students.
LCCC’s SET Program began in Fall 2009 with a one-year certificate program. After completing 32 credits of course work, the first graduates will receive a Certificate in Sustainable Energy Technology in June 2010. These students will have the option to enter the workforce or to continue their education toward an Associate Degree via the “2+2+2” program.
LCCC is working closely with KETEC. Mark Rutkowski, Director of the Northumberland Center in Shamokin, serves on the KETEC Advisory Board, giving LCCC the ability to respond to the anticipated workforce needs that will emerge along with the graduates of the KETEC incubator.
2+2+2 Program. LCCC is fostering the development of partnerships among secondary schools, two-and four-year institutions of higher learning and businesses to make sure there is a steady supply of talented, technically competent employees entering the workforce. Students gain valuable skills at every level, which means they spend just the right amount of time and money to obtain the kind of job they want. And if either student or employer later decides that more education is needed, the 2+2+2 Programs make it easier to upgrade skills.
After any two-year segment, students can enter the workforce or obtain additional education. If a student continues – or goes back to school later – credits previously earned can be applied to the next degree. LCCC’s current partnership with Misericordia University of Dallas, Pennsylvania in a 2+2+2 program is designed to “change the way colleges do business.” It gives LCCC flexibility in the rapid deployment of new educational programs tailored to meet the needs of a shifting employment environment.
LCCC works with the secondary schools to create or enhance their programs in order to create an effective feeder program. Partnerships have been struck with Northumberland Area Career & Technology Center (Shamokin) and SUN Area Career & Technology Center (New Berlin).
Award-winning environmental engineering professor Dr. David Kargbo will lead Temple University’s participation in the KETEC project. Since 2001, Kargbo has worked on numerous issues related to soil contamination and acid mine drainage. He was one of the first to advance the concept of using municipal waste ash to treat acid mine drainage, which is a $1 million-a-day problem in the United States. With the help of the pledge of 50 acres of abandoned mine land provided by Pagnotti Coal, Kargbo will test the beneficial uses of municipal ash, coal fire ash, and wood ash on neutralizing acid minewater contamination of soils. Temple researchers will create three slurries to inject to the Pagnotti site, and will study the results on runoff and acidity reduction. Another research thrust will be to look at the AMD water itself, and methods for precipitating precious metals from it. The research will attempt to use sulfate-reducing bacteria to reduce these metals to a nano scale, which can be quite valuable in today’s market.
In cooperation with IntelliWatt Renewable Energy, a biomass-to-electricity company preparing to take up residence at KETEC, Temple students will also grow different varieties of switchgrass to test their sustainability in, and impact on, minefield soils. In addition, they will experiment with different soil additives such as chicken manure and biosolids, to determine the ideal way to stabilize minefield soils. Switchgrass breeding will be another component of the research on behalf of IntelliWatt. Other targets of Temple research at KETEC will be fuel cells, geothermal energy, clean coal technologies, methods for sealing open mines, AMD and stormwater management, and emission/pollution control technologies.