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Wind Energy Trade Association Awards Seal of Approval

By Staff | Feb 3, 2011

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has named the Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program at Iowa Lakes Community College one of the first-ever recipients of its new Seal of Approval.

The Seal of Approval program was designed to give educational institutions recognition for quality programs, and will also help fortify the industry with a pool of qualified technicians entering the wind power workforce.

In order to be awarded the AWEA Seal of Approval, training programs are assessed on the quality of the education and skill of entry-level service technicians as defined by experts among AWEA’s 2,500 company members.

“We are proud to roll out the AWEA Seal of Approval because the program truly helps build a stronger wind energy industry,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Wind power is about job creation, and when those jobs are created, they need to be filled with a top-notch work force. The AWEA Seal of Approval is representative of both an ever-evolving, maturing industry as well as an association committed to meeting the needs of its members.”

Iowa Lakes Community College has one of the longest-running technical training programs in the country, and offers both one- and two-year programs. Both require a 384-hour internship, something Daniel Lutat, Program Director, says is not easy.

“That’s the equivalent of ten, 40-hour weeks,” Lutat said. “It’s the most challenging part of the program.”

That experience however, is one of the key factors in a high job placement rate following graduation.

“When they get out there on the job, most are truly what you’d call apprentices, so they’re assigned to work alongside an experienced technician as they gain proficiency,” Lutat said. “If the students graduate our program with a two-year degree, 80 to 90 percent are going to walk right out and get a job. It’s the assertiveness and business sense our students gain during their internship gives that gives them an edge as they wrap up their advanced training in their second year and enter a competitive workforce. We’re seeing average salaries between $30,000 and $60,000 a year, depending on the work performed.”

As for how being awarded the AWEA Seal of Approval has impacted the Wind Energy and Turbine Technology Program at Iowa Lakes, Lutat commented, “Earning AWEA’s Seal of Approval is another milepost for the Iowa Lakes Community College team. It represents the hard work of a host of people across the college, and is our trade association’s statement of confidence that we’re preparing entry level technicians with the competencies they need to succeed.”

He cited the Board of Trustees and the college leadership for their support of the program’s involvement in setting the bar high on a national level.

“Involvement with key committees AWEA uses to advance the industry’s workforce development takes a lot of resources and we appreciate the support tremendously,” he said.

“It also speaks volumes about our staff’s commitment to continuous improvement and their dedication to building a program that’s having a lasting impact on future industry professionals,” Lutat said. “We make our biggest impact in contact with our students, and it takes determination to see that through day-in and day-out. Support from all our families plays an important part in being able to sustain the pace,” he added.

Lutat also credits industry partners.

“Of course, none of this would be possible without the many industry and civic leaders that we partner with in developing top-notch education and training, and we’re setting our sights on new opportunities. We’re grateful for the support and sense of pride our communities have in us, and we keep that at the forefront of decisions we make.”

That combination makes Iowa Lakes a top candidate.

“In a nutshell, this milestone is a success for Iowa Lakes Community College, for the communities we serve, and for Iowa’s wind energy leadership.”

The AWEA Seal of Approval program requires that institutional applicants be AWEA members for at least one year, have a program that has been in operation for at least one year, and have graduated at least one class of students. The Seal is valid for two years. Two other colleges were awarded alongside Iowa Lakes; Columbia George Community College, OR, and Texas State Technical College. The Iowa Lakes program started in the fall of 2004. It is widely considered the leader in Wind Energy and Turbine Technology education.