PLATTSBURGH - Clinton Community College is advancing its role as a leader in wind energy and turbine technology education.
The college is now in possession of the first and currently only wind simulator training unit for classroom training anywhere in the nation. The new piece of equipment, called the "Turbine Nacelle Troubleshooting Learning System," or "Nacelle," was installed in time for the 2010 fall semester but officially unveiled during a press conference at the college Oct. 4.
College president John E. Jablonski said the procurement of the training simulator, designed by Amatrol of Jeffersonville, Ind., was "a giant leap forward" for the college's wind energy and turbine technology program.
"[The training simulator] is the first of its kind anywhere," said Jablonski. "Not the first of its kind in New York State, not the first of its kind at a community college - but the announcement we're making today is the simulator that we have and are using with our students now is literally the first one anywhere."
"This is an exciting day for Clinton Community College," added Jablonski.
The state-of-the-art training simulator - purchased through funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority - is considered a unique training platform designed to replicate the functions of full-size utility scale wind turbines. The simulator is expected to make it more convenient for students to get a look at a typical wind turbine without having to travel to an operational wind turbine for hands-on training.
And, hands-on training is "critical" to a properly-trained workforce, said NYSERDA representative Adele Ferranti.
"It's one thing to have the classroom training, but more to have hands-on skills," said Ferranti. "The participants in these training programs are really being taught the basic fundamental skills to develop these services in a very effective manner and in a way these technologies will deliver the energy savings that we're all expecting."
"I think this is going to be a really critical component for Clinton Community College," she added.
Patrick Cribb of Plattsburgh, a second-year wind energy and turbine technology student, agreed, saying the new training equipment will help provide a closer look for students at tools of the trade on a more frequent basis and less time-consuming manner.
"It's definitely an advantage for the program to have something like this," he said. "We won't have to pick up and go to a turbine 30 miles away when we can get a simulation going of the same thing."
Cribb believes that will help boost the already growing enrollment in the wind energy and turbine technology program which is also first and only one of its kind currently in New York State. In fact, the program has already more than doubled its enrollment from 15 to 31 students from the 2009 to 2010 semesters.
"I'm sure it's just going to continue to increase," said Cribb.
And, for students like Cribb who want to study wind energy close to home, this program will put Clinton Community College on the map, he said.
"If I would have had to travel farther to take the program, I may not have done it just given my situation having a family and owning a house," said Cribb. "It would have been difficult to travel. Definitely, the fact that it's here helped out a lot."
That's encouraging news for the business community, said Jody Parks, executive vice president of the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce.
"Strengthening the skills of the local workforce will help bring new jobs to the area and it will help existing businesses remain competitive," said Parks.
In addition to funding from NYSERDA for the equipment, the New York State Department of Labor and NYSERDA provided funding to the college for staff to attend American Wind Energy Association conferences and training for the newly-purchased equipment in Louisville, Ky.
Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, who was also in attendance for the press conference, said the equipment purchased with the funding will help Clinton Community College continue to play "a large role in emerging green job markets" while helping enhance the education of North Country students. "These are the kinds of grants that allow institutions like this to grow, to prosper and to, more importantly, serve their communities," said Owens.