Amarillo College Close to Adding Renewable Energy Program

Jack Stanley, Amarillo College
Jack Stanley, Amarillo College

Amarillo College is moving forward with a new program training wind technicians.

Imagine your first day of class, and your professor tells you the first test is to climb 260 feet up.

"They've got to climb up there and go stay a while and then come back down. People want to do this but are afraid of heights," said Jack Stanley a professor in Amarillo College and the head of Sciences and Engineering Division.

Amarillo College now only needs approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board before a renewable energy curriculum is added.

They are starting with an associates degree in wind energy but leaving the program open to add other forms of green energy later.

But for now the need is in the wind.

"Their estimate is by 2012 there would be 500 technicians needed just in the Texas Panhandle," said Stanley who sees this as a pivotal moment because that is a conservative number. Some say hundreds more could be needed in that time period.

"We think it's an opportunity to get on the cutting edge and meet the needs," said Stanley.

To get on the cutting edge the new program won't be funded by the tight budget of the college.

"Right now we're just trying to get the program going and we feel there is enough state and federal funding out there," Stanley said.

Amarillo College hopes to have the funding and approval in place in time to open classes and start training technicians next semester.