MREA Training Programs: Learn from the Leader

Chris Talbot-Heindl

By CHRIS TALBOT-HEINDL

In 2011, Tara Steinfort, a student at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., landed what she knew would be an experience of a lifetime — an internship at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA). At the time, she had one year left of school and her goal was to eventually become a utility-scale wind turbine technician. That summer she gained experience on both photovoltaic (PV) and wind systems on location.

“I was thrilled to accept and so excited for the opportunity,” Steinfort said. “I received certificates for the [wind courses] that will benefit me when I start applying for jobs. I feel that my experience with the MREA was extremely valuable as I met so many wonderful people and made connections that will benefit me in my future.”

Wind Repair classes

Brandon Naylor participated in MREA’s Wind System repair and Maintenance course. Photo: Jenny Heinzen, MREA

While Steinfort’s internship was an unusual case for getting involved in the training programs at MREA, her sentiments are not. Many individuals experiencing their first venture in renewable energy turn to the MREA for their professional education opportunities.

MREA has been offering courses in renewable energy and sustainable living throughout the upper Midwest since 1992. Early on, the courses were aimed toward homeowners who wanted to learn to be more sustainable in their daily lives. Today, MREA courses are designed for a wide range of participants, including homeowners, advocates, entrepreneurs, licensed professionals, installers, technical college instructors and everyone in between.

While many renewable energy training programs teach the same variety of topics, including photovoltaics, residential wind systems, solar thermal systems, installer training, renewable energy business, alternative construction, sustain- able agriculture and sustainable living, MREA’s courses are taught by experts in the field, many of whom are NABCEP-certified installers, ISPQ-Certified Affiliated Instructors and ISPQ-Certified Affiliated Master Trainers. MREA courses are based on industry-approved task analysis (when available) and are designed to satisfy the knowledge and skill competencies for professional certification as well as continuing education credits for professional licenses. MREA’s photovoltaic and solar thermal progressions are ISPQ-Accredited Training Programs. MREA also offers site-assessment training and the MREA Site Assessment Certificate, as well as a recognized training provider certificate standard for site- assessment instruction.

Training programs this year include MREA’s wind course suite, a series of wind courses ranging from beginning climbing and safety to more advanced wind system maintenance and code for small wind; and the Renewable Energy and Sustainable Agriculture Program, designed to assist farms and value- added food producers in making their processes sustainable.

For more information and a complete list of courses, visit midwestrenew.org/workshops.

Chris Talbot-Heindl (christ@midwestrenew.org) is the training programs coordinator at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, an ASES chapter.

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